Sunday 25 February 2018

Crumlin Road Gaol: Four Hour Paranormal Investigation

I love the paranormal; I watch it on TV, read books about it, and love hearing stories from people who have experienced spooky goings on. I find it so interesting to think that perhaps us humans aren't alone, and I feel like it would be very naive of us to think that we are.

You can imagine my excitement when I was told I would be going to Crumlin Gaol, an old jail steeped in history situated just outside Belfast city centre. This wasn't just any tour, it was a four hour paranormal investigation with GSI (Ghost Searchers Ireland), a team of professional ghost hunters armed with all the hi-tech equipment needed to make contact with the other side.

As we pulled up outside the jail, I noticed how creepy the courthouse, which sits directly opposite the jail, looked. Apparently it's pretty much just a shell now, however there are plans to convert it into a hotel in the future.

The courthouse opposite the jail

After a quick briefing and being split into teams, we were guided down to one of the wings of the jail where there were beams of light projecting in all directions. At this stage the wing was well lit, however, the atmosphere gives you all sorts of creepy feelings. We weren't told what to expect or what to look out for, as GSI stated this would only cause our brains to imagine things. 

We were then told to all pick a cell, and stand with our backs to the doors, which were open. This was absolutely fine with me, until the lights were turned out and there I was, stood in dark with a low frequency noise playing (much like the old air raid sirens, but lower and a lot more unnerving), for a full five minutes. This noise is supposed to awaken the spirits that reside in the jail and hopefully get the ball rolling for some paranormal happenings.

I didn't know how I was going to react on this tour as it's the first real ghost investigation I have ever taken part in. And although I love watching Ghost Hunters International on TV, actually standing in a supposed haunted location knowing there's protentially hundreds of pairs of eyes watching you is something I'll not forget in a hurry. I also had a minute of pure panic at the beginning of the first exercise, as the low frequency noise and the thought of something grabbing me from the open cell door I was standing in, almost proved too much. I had to have a mental talk with myself, and prepare for the fact that there was nowhere to run and the reality was that I would probably catch sight of something that my mind would not be able to unsee.

After this first investigation, GSI asked us if anyone had seen anything out of the ordinary during the five minutes of darkness with that creepy noise playing. Numerous people in the group who were standing along the cells opposite mine, admitted they had seen something on the platform above us, where there was another row of empty cells. The beams of light made it easy for them to see any movement, or anything breaking the light, and many stated that yes, something was moving back and forth right above us.

Next, we moved to another wing where there was a table with two candles, and seats surrounding it. We were all seated with our hands flat on the table and our small finger touching our neighbours' finger, apparently to raise the energy levels. We took turns in 'calling out' to anyone who may have been around us, and after numerous questions with no response we were in for a treat. Our patience paid off as soon we were experiencing distant chatter from the far end of the wing, footsteps, groaning, and two girls who were sat beside me had what sounded like a man exhaling heavily right behind them. I found this interesting as both girls jumped simultaneously, and the only thing behind was a closed cell door. Spooky!

There were also opportunities to sit in a cell alone if that is what you wished, and conduct your own mini investigation. I chose to stay firmly out in the main walkway, as just walking past all the open cell doors was scary enough, I found myself staring into them as I passed by, hoping but not actually considering how I'd react if I were to see anyone.

We then made our way over to the old hospital building, and for me this was one of the highlights. We had a ghost box, which is a radio that scans through the LW frequency, and is said to be an effective way of spirits communicating. Again, we weren't given any hints of what others had experienced in this building. We took turns in calling out and pretty soon we started getting some repsonse. A young spirit boy stated his name, Sam, and when prompted by a lady in our group to count to ten, he began. The radio would scan through stations and there would be just noise, then as clear as day, you would hear someone counting. I'm almost sure my jaw almost hit the floor at the point, but this was just the beginning.

The hospital building
We got so many amazing responses through the radio, especially when we asked whether the voice was that of a patient or employee of the jail, we heard a man firmly say 'patient'. Not only this, but many of us in the group were adamant we had seen something at the end of the hall, it was moving, peeking out and moving back into the shadow of the window again. We spoke again to the radio, and heard back, 'Hide 'n' Seek'... We asked the spirit whether this was them at the end of the hall, as we all stood staring in disbelief, the response we got, "You're crazy."

Next we walked through the 'Condemned Man's' cell, where a prisoner would stay just before the time came for him to be hanged. We then walked through a door, past a noose, and down the stairs to where the bodies would have been taken following the hanging. We stood by a coffin, supposedly found many years ago in the jail and thought to be an original that was leftover from the days of capital punishment. On top of the coffin was a piece of wood with an upside down glass. I thought, 'Here we go, if this glass moves I'm away."

The hanging area
We again separated into groups, with four of us going into smaller room where the spirit of a boy named Patrick Magee was supposed to be roaming about. He was a 10 year old boy who had been jailed for  three months after stealing bread, he hanged himself in 1858, the same year a law was passed to forbid children under the age of 14 being sent to an adult prison.

The four of us stood surrounding a piece of equipment on a small table. It had lights that were supposed to light up when the aerial sensed a change in energy in the room. After much prompting and speaking to any unseen presence surrounding us, we were all a bit diappointed, but soon I caught a glimpse of something in the far, darkened corner behind the lady stood opposite me. I thought I can't possibly be seeing something and kept quiet, then I announced to the others what I thought I was seeing. So the lady called out, saying she wasn't afraid and if there was anything there we would love for them to communicate. I am not joking when I say this, but the area behind the lady darkened and I'm almost sure whatever was there was getting closer, as literally after she spoke, the light on the box lit up then quickly went off again. This was another highlight of the whole night, knowing that potentially we had contacted something that was lurking in the shadows, watching us.

The room where 'Patrick' is said to hang around. This is also where we had flashing lights on our ghost box.
As soon as we exited the room we were beside the old coffin where others from the group each had a finger placed on the upside down glass, which was uncontrollably circling round the table at a very fast pace. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, and as soon as one of the members of the team asked whether this spirit would be accompanying us elsewhere in the jail that night, the glass slowed down. It was then asked whether this spirit was indeed afraid of other presences in the jail, causing the glass to come to an abrupt standstill.

The tunnel

If anyone has been before you'll know all about the underground tunnel connecting the courthouse to the jail. Once sentenced, prisoners were walked through the tunnel, to avoid anyone intercepting and potentially freeing thoses convicted. GSI told us we were to each walk down the tunnel alone, knock at the door on the far end that leads into the court, and call out to 'Sir'. A couple of the team were brave enough and took off one by one down the long, dimly lit tunnel. Some of the girls called on the spirit of a young girl, Isabelle (I'll tell you more about her later) to look after them as they embarked on their brave walk through the tunnel. I however kept my head down, until a member of GSI asked if I had been down yet. I said no thanks, I am fine right here but he was adamant I should do it. After a little persuasion, he said he would accompany me and so off we went. You know that feeling you get walking down dark stairs thinking someone is behind you? That's what it felt like. The thought crossed my mind that if something knocks back on this door, the walk back is rather long, and you're not allowed to run.

My photo that appears to have something quite strange in it.

We walked down, and got to the door where the member of GSI confidently banged on the door. I stood staring down the way we had come. I don't know why, because if I had of seen anything the only way back was that way. The guy then began calling out to the girl who has been seen in the tunnel, named Isabelle. There are however no records of anyone by that name ever being in the jail, but somehow, someone realised that is what she responds to. Whilst I was staring down the long, extremely creepy tunnel, the man I was with was quite sure that the tail of my thick, heavy scarf moved. Whether it was lifted or knocked, I don't know. Me being me, I was too scared to turn and look at my scarf, all I could muster were the words, 'Shut up.' Whether Isabelle was there that night and happened to take a fancy to my scarf, I'll never really know. However, part of me hopes it was her.

The above photo is one I took in complete darkness, with my flash on. GSI told us that increasing exposure on photos shows things we may not necessarily see otherwise. So I turned up the exposure on this photo, and the figure of a girl in what looks like a long, Victorian dress appeared, looking right back at me. You can see her face, shoulders and a hand. It could be me making something out of nothing, or maybe it is Isabelle, who knows?

We did have a short break at around 11pm, but I was enjoying the buzz and adrenaline from investigating that I couldn't sit still and was so eager to get back into the main jail. Apparently, our group was experiencing most of the activity! We followed the break with a planchette set up on a table in one of the wings. A planchette is a wooden piece of apparatus that has a pen attached. The idea is that each person places a finger lightly on the wood and the spirit can communicate through moving the planchette and subsequently drawing on the paper below. We didn't get too much from this, even with various team members taking part, however at the end of the wing there was a set of metal stairs and many of us definitely heard scraping and saw the outline of the bottom half of a figure, with a hand on the bannister.  It was as if someone was watching but was unsure of whether to walk further down towards us. There were also a few orbs appearing in photos taken by some of the group. Interesting!

The lockers in reception.
Finally, we conducted an EVP session (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) in the reception area. I am unsure of what exactly it was used for but judging by the small cubicles and numbered bags, it may have been where prison wardens changed. We were locked in a cubicle each, in the dark of course! And conducted our own session of asking questions and using a voice recorder to catch any voices that we weren't able to hear ourselves. I got a slight inaudible response to my question of, "If there is anyone here, can you tell us your name?". Another couple recorded the audio of their investigation on one phone and videoed it on another. We took turns in playing back our findings, and neither the audio recording on the man's phone, or the video recording on the lady's phone picked up any sound. Not even their voices asking the question... How strange.

1 in the morning and we are finally finished!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would happily do it all over again. It was conducted so professionally and the fact we were allowed to use official 'ghost hunting' equipment ensured we got the most out of the whole investigation. It exceeded my expectations, and although some areas of the gaol weren't as active as I would have liked, other areas more than made up for it. If you are sceptical I would encourage you to take a trip to the gaol, and just have an open mind. I didn't go with the hopes of being scared out of my wits, I really just wanted to have a look inside. The fact that so much happened was just the icing on the cake and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

You can read more about Crumlin Gaol here, and you can book the paranormal tours here. They only conduct the four hour tours every few months, and tickets sell pretty quickly, so it's best to keep an eye on the Crumlin Gaol Facebook page. You can also find Ghost Searchers Ireland on Facebook and keep up to date with all the investigations they do across the country and further afield. Thanks for reading!

No comments

Post a Comment

Blogger Template Created by pipdig