13 Best British & Irish Horror

List Updated July 2020

Bestselling British & Irish Horror in 2020


After the End of the World (Carter & Lovecraft Book 2)

After the End of the World (Carter & Lovecraft Book 2)
BESTSELLER NO. 1 in 2020

The Oracle (aka The Horse's Mouth)

The Oracle (aka The Horse's Mouth)
BESTSELLER NO. 2 in 2020

Slade House: A Novel

Slade House: A Novel
BESTSELLER NO. 3 in 2020

Issue 6: No Future For You, Part 1

Issue 6: No Future For You, Part 1
BESTSELLER NO. 4 in 2020

The Cottingley Secret: A Novel

The Cottingley Secret: A Novel
BESTSELLER NO. 5 in 2020

The Visitors

The Visitors
BESTSELLER NO. 6 in 2020

The League of Gentlemen - The Complete Series 3

The League of Gentlemen - The Complete Series 3
BESTSELLER NO. 7 in 2020
  • Take a look into the extremely unique and surreal local world of Royston Vasey. This set includes each grotesquely funny episode from series three, as seen in the UK. Featuring the strongest collection of characters you will ever see; all played with extraordinary range by three actors/writers.This truly original Britcom has been likened to Shaun of the Dead and "Monty Python meets Twin Peaks"; cu

Anansi Boys

Anansi Boys
BESTSELLER NO. 8 in 2020

The Ritual

The Ritual
BESTSELLER NO. 9 in 2020

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
BESTSELLER NO. 10 in 2020

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast
BESTSELLER NO. 11 in 2020

Company of Liars: A Novel

Company of Liars: A Novel
BESTSELLER NO. 12 in 2020

The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files Book 2)

The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files Book 2)
BESTSELLER NO. 13 in 2020

Irish Horror and History - Friar's Bush Cemetery

The Friar's Bush cemetery on the Stranmillis Road in Belfast may only be two acres in size, but its walls hold stories that are far bloodier than you would expect - plague, famine, murder and body snatching are all part of its history.

The Friar's Bush cemetery on the Stranmillis Road in Belfast may only be two acres in size, but its walls hold stories that are far bloodier than you would expect - plague, famine, murder and body snatching are all part of its history.

The most famous body snatchers or "resurrection men" were Burke and Hare - both originally from Ulster themselves - who quickly realized that it was easier and more profitable to kill victims themselves, rather than get their hands dirty digging up graves. By the time they were arrested in 1828 it was estimated that they had claimed 17 victims between them, though only Burke was hanged for the crimes because Hare turned King's Evidence against him.

Several years before that most infamous of body-snatching cases, Friar's Bush cemetery had it's own story of strangers coming in the night and removing the recently dead from their final resting place. In 1823, a barrel was stopped at the docks with the bodies of a middle-aged female and a child squeezed into a barrel and packed tight with sawdust.

Resurrectionist George Stewart had already escaped, but his partner - recorded only as Feeny - was found drunk at their lodgings in Academy Street, and investigation found that the bodies were the wife and child of Mr. Bell, a shoe-maker from Forest Lane, and had been buried the previous Wednesday. As noted in the Belfast News Letter on 15 July 1823, on searching the room, a box mailed from Edinburgh and addressed to Stewart was "found containing a large brass syringe for injecting the veins of dead bodies, also a surgeon's knife, forceps, needle c.; and five sovereigns".

Stewart and Feeny had risked the treacherous journey from Scotland, where medical schools at Edinburgh and Glasgow were starved of corpses to dissect because laws stated that cadavers could only be from hanged criminals. It was a grisly trade that continued until 1832, when laws were finally changed.

The cemetery gates have been closed since 1869 to all except those with established plots, but aside from the graves of noted newspapermen, publicans and Bernard Hughes, the rags-to-riches entrepreneur and inventor of the large, flour-covered roll called the "Belfast Bap", there is something large and ominous as soon as you pass through the gate lodge.

"According to records, cholera first appeared in Belfast in 1832, when there were 2833 victims, with 418 deaths. In 1847-1848, after the Famine, a wave of fever and dysentery carried off 2487 and cholera epidemics recurred with less vengeance, in 1848, 1854 and 1866."
Extract from the Belfast Board of Guardians, June 1847

Known as the "plaguey pit", it marks the resting place of thousands of people who perished in a major cholera epidemic in 1832-33, when bodies - most of them unidentified - were burnt before burial to prevent the spread of infection. It was opened again in 1847 to take more victims of the Great Famine, but by 1852 it was declared as "excessively overcrowded" and closed soon after.

Now covered in exotic herbs and flowers alien to Ulster, a plaque was recently placed on the pit to honour 800 of the dead that rest there, and a ceremony is being planned to pay tribute to the many others.

There are other anonymous dead here too; the cemetery is in the wealthy Malone area of the city, and in years past there have been many tragic and secret stories of servant girls, maids and mistresses who, petrified of scandal and illegitimacy, threw their babies - alive and dead - over the wall. The gatekeeper and gravediggers made more than a few gruesome discoveries at dawn.

The cemetery dates back to the 14th and 15th century, and its distinct name also came out of bloodshed. The 1691 and 1793 Penal Laws made the practice of Mass forbidden, and even though it was not always not fully enforced, there are many stories of brave men crossing the river Lagan to lead services for the faithful.

"In Penal times, as peasant tell,
A friar came with book and bell
To chant his Mass each Sabbath morn,
Beneath Stranmillis trysting thorn"
From the poem "The Friar's Bush" by Joseph Campbell 1905

Friars could perform the ceremony at secret "Mass Stations", and to this day a large and twisted thorn tree - the "Friar's Thorn" grows on the mound where the ceremonies were carried out here. Some were caught and imprisoned, but some faced a far worse fate. It was at one of these services that a friar was murdered, some say by a shot to the heart, some say by being captured and hung from the very tree he had been preaching under.

"The poor priest had no other shelter than was afforded by the venerable old thorn, which on one occasion did the double duty of shadowing the Mass and afterwards serving as a gallows for the poor friar"
Ulster Observer, 1867

"He arrived, said Mass, but just as he turned round to give the last blessing, he fell shot through the heart, he was buried where he fell, and a stone erected on the spot"
Down and Connor Historical Society's Journal, 1834

Regardless of which tale is true, the nearby "Friar's Stone" - marked A.D. 485 - is the reputed resting place of the murdered friar, although the more likely explanation for the ancient stone is that it's the work of a sneaky Victorian antiquarian.

Even in modern times, Friar's Bush has had the power to scare people away; when plans were drafted to widen the busy road outside, they were swiftly quashed when it was rumoured that disturbing the plaguey pit might release something other than dead spirits back into the city. Today, thousands of people pass by one of the oldest cemeteries in Ireland without realizing that, creepy stories aside, King William of Orange rode past en route to the Boyne, and St. Patrick himself was rumoured to have built a church here.

If you are interested in the graveyard's horror and history, you can go to the Welcome Centre in the city centre and buy tickets for the weekly Sunday tours. You can also read more about the famous - and notorious - residents in Two Acres of Irish History: Friar's Bush and Belfast 1870-1918 by Dr Eamon Phoenix (Ulster Historical Foundation, £6.95).

Related Bestselling Lists That You Might Like