The Northern Ireland Paranormal Research Association (NIPRA) has been working for over 20 years to explain the unexplainable. Its founder WARREN COATES discusses why ghost hunting Northern Irish-style is so much fun.
For as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in all things paranormal.
I remember getting “The Hamlin Book of Ghosts” as a birthday present aged eight and this interest continued for a few years.
My brother and a friend used to go to locations that were said to be haunted, looking to debunk rather than prove them real, and it was at this stage that I had my first paranormal experience.
In a graveyard one summer evening, my brother and I saw a tall, dark shadow in the shape of a man move along the walkway into the church.
This was the turning point for me from sceptic to believer.
Our investigating equipment at the time left a lot to be desired.
We used a tape Dictaphone machine and an old camcorder (a very big, old one), although we did have some success with EVPs.
This interest grew until 1991 when I started NIPRA.
We have been very lucky over the years to have investigated some very large and high level locations, from Castle Ward (a large manor house owned by the National Trust), several nursing homes, old police and army buildings to our ultimate venue – Crumlin Road Jail (pictured in main photos).
This is one of the most active and menacing places I have ever been involved with.
Crumlin Jail is an old Victorian prison which has seen over 16 executions, many murders and suicides.
It is full of the energies of past inmates and investigators have had keys, stones and bottles thrown at us.
Although we lead Ghost Walks through the site, we were also given full access to conduct a six month private investigation in the jail.
Richhill Castle in Armagh is another of our venues. Built in the late 16th Century, it is a building steeped in local history, with Ghost Tours organised by NIPRA.
The castle is one of the most peaceful and welcoming places we have ever investigated, with returning spirits and a ghostly horse and rider who gallop into the driveway.
The horse can be heard snorting, and at times both have also been seen.
NIPRA also run open nights, which are designed for people who have had or are experiencing paranormal activity.
We explain what the paranormal is and more importantly what it is not.
I always try to explain why a spirit may be haunting a location and to help people try to communicate with the spirits.
Attendance at the open night is the only way to join NIPRA.
We are a spirit-based group and still use some equipment but also work with mediumship.
We help people tune into the spirit word and develop their medium ship abilities.
Talks on the paranormal, occult and alternative religions are also available.
For further information on the Northern Ireland Paranormal Research Association (NIPRA) please check out its great website here at www.nipra.co.uk.