Villagers, generations of whom are said to have stood watch over the tree and its captive spirit, were shocked to find the lightning-blasted sycamore shell had gone, victim of another, recent, storm.
It was almost a year ago to the day, on July 22 last year, that The Leader published the ghostly tale of the tree and the malicious spirit said to be literally bottled up within it.
The local legend has such power that one relative newcomer, set to move away from the area in coming weeks, said she was glad to be leaving now that the tree had been lost.
The story goes that in the early 20th century a malevolent spirit haunted the Dree Hill Road bridge in the centre of Finnis; the village priest exorcised the spirit, capturing it in a bottle, which he placed inside a nearby sycamore tree, so ending the hauntings.
The reader who contacted The Leader with the tale last year said at the time that from that day on nobody in Finnis would touch the tree or allow anyone else to touch it.
"Some years back," he said, "when either power lines or telephone lines were being run through the village, the tree stood in the way of progress and the priest had to be called to stop the workers from cutting it down; as a result they had to run the cables through the tree's upper branches."
Even after the dawn of the 21st century, many decades after the alleged exorcism, he said, any mention of removing what remained of the long-dead tree still stirred strong emotions among some locals.
According to another resident, last August's floods broke off a part of the tree, which lay where it fell for a long time before anyone would touch it.
But now nature has succeeded where even the march of progress failed and for one woman, sad at the thought of her upcoming move from an area she arrived in just two years ago, the tree's loss has shed new light on her leaving.
"I was driving over the bridge on my way home from work," she said, "and I couldn't believe my eyes; the tree was gone, just a wee stump of it left; I was told it had come down in the weekend storms.
"I've only lived here a couple of years and I was shocked so I can't imagine what some of the older residents make of it.
"I'm moving at the end of the month and now I'm glad I'm going to tell the truth."
Villagers Spooked As Fallen Tree 'Frees Spirit'
newsletter.co.uk - A fallen tree has brought a century-old ghost story in County Down back to life.
Residents in the small hamlet of Finnis, near Dromara, fear that a recent storm, which felled a haunted tree, has now set free an evil spirit.
Legend has it that more than 100 years ago a malevolent spirit haunted the Dree Hill Road bridge in the centre of Finnis. The local priest is believed to have exorcised the spirit, capturing it in a bottle, which he then placed inside a nearby sycamore tree.
Last week, villagers were shocked to discover that the tree had inexplicably been struck down, thrusting open the bottle in the process.
The tree, long dead from a lightening strike, fell under the cover of darkness last weekend, sparking a flurry of local rumour and superstition.
And nowhere are the ghost stories more alive than in the local pub in Dromara.
"I'm in the business of selling spirits, but I wouldn't know too much about evil spirits," said Eddie Doyle, owner of the Square One bar.
"Anyone who lives around here knows the history of that tree and all the stories associated with it.
"Since this tree has fallen, many of my customers have been talking about little else.
"I'm not superstitious myself, but I can certainly tell you that there is a fear among local people. Now that it has finally fallen after all these years, they believe that the spirit will have been released.
"It looks as if the tree just fell over in the wind, it was old and rotten, but some people believe something else happened to it."
Adding to the intrigue, a number of old bottles could be seen among the debris at the base of the tree.
But Eddie remains unconvinced: "That tree was hollow for years, and I think a lot of the bottles were thrown into the tree by folk coming home from the pub over the years.
"But, of course, the major talking point now is that one of the bottles which contains this evil spirit has now been opened, letting out the spirit. It's all a bit of craic I suppose, but many of my older customers wouldn't laugh about it.
"There are people here who have never touched that tree or let anyone else touch it, and now that the tree is gone and the spirit is missing all the old stories are being retold.
"I have heard most of the stories many times and they are very entertaining, and I'm sure there are going to be plenty more in the weeks ahead.
"We might even have to have another exorcism."
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