Doctor baffled by Achill experience
Friday last, July 16, was the sixth anniversary of the 1993 opening
House of Prayer, Achill Sound, Co. Mayo, and a large number of people from
all parts of Ireland and some from overseas, visited the House of Prayer, a
nd took part in the prayers and devotions to mark the anniversary.
It was reported that as the afternoon prayers were about to commence,
Mrs.Christina Gallagher, who was kneeling in the chapel, went into an ecstatic,
trance-like state, and this was closely witnessed by a number of people, both lay
and clerical, and lasted for ten minutes or more.
Among the first-hand witnesses to the phenomenon was an Irish medical
Skagh, Croom, Co. Limerick, Dr. Michael Anketell, who told "The Irish Family" this
week that he has no experience or knowledge of "ecstasies"
or anything of that nature, but that what he witnessed was "beyond all natural, medical,
scientific or psychological explanation."
"As a doctor, I can only seek to give a scientific description of what
I saw and leave
it to others to interpret", he said.
Dr. Anketell indicated he was willing to set out a testimony of what
occurred on Friday
afternoon last (16 July), at the House of Prayer, Achill Sound, provided it was not
altered or distorted, and the following is his unedited account of what occurred:
"I am a medical practitioner qualified from the National University of Ireland in the
year 1981, of eighteen years experience in all branches of my profession. What I am
about to testify and give witnesses to has, in my opinion, no natural, medical,
scientific or psychological explanation.
"On July 16, 1999, at her request, I drove my elderly mother from Limerick
to the 'House of Prayer' in Achill Sound, Co. Mayo, a place she likes to visit usually
on an annual basis.
At approximately 2pm, I ushered my mother into the little chapel there
found a seat for her close to the sanctuary. As I turned to find a seat for
myself, I observed that Mrs. Christina Gallagher, who was kneeling in front of the
altar on our arrival, had suddenly stood up, and just as suddenly
her hands jerked upwards in what I could only describe as a praying position.
"With that, to my amazement, her whole body arched backwards with the
of her thoracic spine entering a forty five degree angle. With both knees slightly bent,
the lower lumber region of her back and pelvis started t
o sway backwards and forwards. Thinking she was about to fall and crack her
head off the floor, I leapt forward, and found to my amazement that her whole body
seemed to be suspended as if in mid-air. Suddenly to my shock, her
head and neck snapped back in a ninety degree angle, so that her face and
head were now in a horizontal position to the ceiling of the chapel and app
eared to be focussed and concentrated on one area up there. In this arched,
fixed position, which I feel no highly trained professional gymnast could achieve, her
whole body, arms out-stretched upwards, started to sway, backwards and forwards."
Like Brain Death
"As I looked down on her face, which was waxen in complexion, I noted with
amazement that the pupils of her eyes were fixed and dilated with complete
absence of the blink reflex, despite flashing cameras now focussed on her f
"In medical terms - and I have spent many years working in trauma and
departments, a diagnosis of severe brain damage or brain death would be
made, when there is an absence of the blink reflex to bright lights, and equally when
the pupils are fixed and dilated and unresponsive to light and
stimulation, i.e. camera flash bulbs, etc.
"This phenomenon I was witnessing was defying all the laws of medicine
science. According to my training, this woman was clinically brain dead, despite the
extraordinary involuntary movements of her body.
What occurred next only added to my complete amazement and astonishment
what I was witnessing.
Disc On Tongue
"As her whole body continued to sway in this very unusual arched position,
her mouth suddenly opened and her tongue projected slightly forward, what I
would call a healthy uncoated vascular tongue, in the timing of the blink
of an eye, it suddenly started to fill with a white circular disc resembling a
Communion host, except that it appeared to be whiter than usual and exuded a gleam
of light or brightness out of the ordinary. It remained suspended on her tongue for a
period I cannot account for, as I was so overcome with emotion and astonishment at
witnessing these extraordinary events.
After a period, Mrs. Gallagher consumed the 'host' and on doing so,
I observed that
the spasm and flexion in her neck increased, so that the carotid artery pulses were now
visible. Even though observation of this pulse is not
totally accurate, it does indicate a healthy, regular and normal blood pressure and
heart beat. My observation of this carotid pulse, only visible in
extreme spasm and flexion of the musculature of the neck, showed a regular, normal
and healthy rate of about 72 beats per minute.
"Serenity to Pain"
"Following this, the arched flexion of her back seemed to increase and her
arms extended upwards and her head and neck flexed further in a backward direction,
swayed forward and backward in an almost uncontrollable way.
"Her pupils remained fixed and dilated but the expression on her face
that of serenity to that of pain and deep suffering. For the first
time she emitted sound, which to me seemed like a moaning or crying sound.
"Gradually, over a period of minutes, her whole body seemed to relax.
her back and started to blink her eyes. She joined both hands and resumed the praying
position as I had observed of her originally on coming into the chapel.
"One other observation I feel I am obliged to make is an extraordinary
perfume or fragrance
that I personally experienced during this phenomenon. To describe it is impossible - it had
no resemblance to ordinary fragrance or perfume, but an almost intoxicating, overwhelming
odour of flowers, plants,
herbs, impossible to formulate in words.
To conclude this testimony I can only say that it was completely accidental
that I was present to witness these events. I can find no 'natural', 'medical' 'scientific' or
'psychological' explanation for what I witnessed.
"I spent some of my earlier years working in the area of psychology
medicine - I can honestly say that, having met Mrs. Gallagher, that my only true and honest
verdict could be that of an 'ordinary' sensible '
down to earth' person of 'sound mind' full of warmth and a natural sense of
"I am forty one years of age -- my generation of doctors and scientists
were trained that
there is a 'natural', 'scientific', 'psychological', or 'medical' explanation for everything. I now beg to differ.
In my eighteen years of medical practice, what I experienced on July
99 is beyond all 'natural', 'medical', 'scientific' and 'psychological' explanation and
understanding. Regarding a spiritual or supernatural explanation, I have no authority to
comment, but leave that to those qualified to do so.
"I will finally conclude by stating that I have no difficulty in reiterating
what I have just
written and stated on paper, and am willing to be interviewed by any authority to give
witness and testify to what I experienced directly on Friday, July 16, 1999 at the
House of Prayer, Achill Sound, Co. Mayo."
Copied from "The Irish Family", of Friday 23 July 1999
P.O. Box 7,
Co. Westmeath, Ireland
Joe Orlando O.A.S.
Cape Fear Studios
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