Phantom of Sabra House Belfast


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Parties no longer take place in these rooms; they are empty. Conversations have come to an end. Anyone knocking on the door will no longer ask for me.There are stains on the walls where pictures were hanging. Things were tossed away without regard. There will be no further affectionate exchanges, a final line has been drawn- was it with a firm hand?In my passport is a stamp, which I got after endless efforts –  the earth, which belongs to no one, is now precisely divided. The door is open. But what is behind the door?

Walter Bauer 1904-1976
translated from German

There is a family photo that I remember seeing many times as a child while visiting my grandmother’s house in Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada. It is of a large 2 story stone house on Station Road in Sydenham, Belfast.  This house, I was told, was the family residence in Ireland. Recently I scanned a copy of this photo and increased its size to have a closer look on my large screen computer.

Sabra House Belfast

Sabra House
Belfast 1919
Click to Enlarge

Much to my surprise there appeared to be a woman standing beside the front stairs. Never before had there been any people or animals of any description in this particular familiar photo.

Well, I reasoned that maybe this apparition had been created by some twigs or bushes at the side of the stairway. However, the image was too clear and interesting to just ignore. It appeared to be the silhouette of a woman dressed in the style of the early 20th century. She seemed to have long, dark hair and to be wearing a long, flowing dress wrapped with a shawl. She stood in a position of sadness, somewhat stooped, at the side of the stairway.


On further examination of this photo I also noticed that the stairway was somewhat neglected, scattered with leaves and such, giving the impression that there was no longer anyone living in the house. The photo is dated 1919. The other group photos of the family and friends were taken at Sabra House in 1918 and 1919.

The Anglo-Irish War, a guerrilla war fought from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British security forces in Ireland was going on. Belfast, where the family was living and also Dublin, where my grandmother was born, were heavily impacted by the instability of the time. By 1920 my grandmother and her family had immigrated to Canada.

group-at-sabra-house-1I am not sure if Sabra House is still standing. Its address in those days was Sabra House, 8 Station Road, Sydenham. My research from Google Earth has not positively identified it as being the same building which now stands at that address in the form of a duplex (6-8 Station Road)  and looks as though it has been ‘added on’ to. If anyone has any information about this, I would appreciate it if you would let me know.

I scanned all the photos from the original album of my great-uncle Henry James Cambridge Poore (1894-1980). My grandmother was Agnes Christiana Cambridge Poore (1896-1989).


Phantom of Sabra House Belfast 1919

Phantom of Sabra House
Belfast 1919

One Comment

  1. Hi, I’m trying to do some research on the houses on Station Road. I have a map of the street from 1903 and I’m trying to pinpoint which building is Sabra House.

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