The curse of Barney Duffy


Barney Duffy was a giant of a man. He towered over two young soldiers, uttering a terrible curse; “Take me or report me, ye red-coated lily-livered lice! Aye! And then I’ll hang-but hear me curse on ye! So surely as ye do this, before me corpse has hung a week on King’s Town gallows, ye’ll meet a violent death, the pair of ye!”

Duffy, an Irishman, had been imprisoned by the British on Norfolk Island, in the Pacific Ocean, 900 miles north –east of Sydney. The island is one of the most beautiful in the world, but its past is a long tale of blood.

Scores of its present residents claim they have seen ghosts-ghosts of the descendants of theBounty mutineers, who outgrew tiny Pitcairn Island and moved to Norfolk in the 19th century, and ghosts of rebellious Irish convicts, hanged there after the British authorities shipped them from Botany Bay.

The convict’s life was a continuous nightmare. Men got 50 lashes for possessing tobacco or singing. They ate with their fingers and drank water from buckets. Those sentenced to hang thanked God for deliverance, while the remainder prayed not form freedom but for death.

Barney Duffy escaped from this living hell and hid in a hollow pine in the thick rainforest. He emerged at night to raid the vegetable gardens of the settlement. His beard and hair were long and matted, and he had just a few rags to cover himself when the two soldiers, who were out fishing, discovered him.

They shrugged off his curse and pushed him back to the settlement with their muskets. Duffy was hanged, and two days later the soldiers went to fish at the same spot near the hollow pine, where Duffy was hiding.

Shortly after, a foot patrol found their bodies, battered and broken, drifting in the tide nearby.

To this day Norfolk Island maps show Barney Duffy Gully-where two soldiers ignored his curse and paid with their lives.

Source and Reference: The Reader’s Digest Book of Strange Stories, Amazing Facts


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