Even an unusually vivacious ghost can't brighten this lackluster tale of young people fighting to preserve the scenic beauty of their Irish island. Though hampered by cerebral palsy, Jessie, 10, stubbornly keeps trying to scale Clare Island's Big Hill--and succeeds at last, thanks to some sudden and startling help from the cheery ghost of a 16th-century pirate, Grania O'Malley. Jessie then faces a fresh challenge when a developer brings in earth movers to mine Big Hill for gold. When Jessie, with a visiting American cousin, leads a march to the summit for a faceoff, Grania and her ghostly crew drive the bulldozers over a cliff. The developer goes quietly, placated perhaps by the suggestion that he ""mine"" Big Hill's springs for designer water (to be named, of course, for Grania). The island's formerly depressed economy gets a boost from ghost-hunting tourists. These are neat twists but still shrink-wrapped. While Jessie is a spunky main character, paired with a colorful figure in Irish history (O'Malley's checkered career is covered more thoroughly, and just as admiringly, in Emily Arnold McCully's Pirate Queen, 1995) who is literally and figuratively a kindred spirit, readers looking for the strong atmosphere of Morpurgo's The Wreck of the Zanzibar (1995) or the captivating magic of The Sandman and the Turtles (1993) will be disappointed.