Fancy a ghost with your pint? MJ STEEL COLLINS picks five haunted pubs in Glasgow with paranormal activity
Scotia Bar, Stockwell Street, Glasgow
Established in 1792, the Scotia remains one of Glasgow’s popular pubs, with strong ties to the city’s folk music scene; Billy Connolly was once a regular. The interior of the pub has remained unchanged since 1920. It is also crammed wall to wall with ghosts. Perhaps the best known is the spirit of a manager who allegedly hung himself in the basement, but the story is so vague is may be one of Glasgow’s many “hairy dug” stories – one that has taken itself a walk around the block several times. Other ghosts said to float among the regulars is that of Annie, a former prostitute, a former landlady called Isabella, an ex-bar maid called the Green Lady and the spirit of a young boy, a former owner’s son, who died about the age of 9 or 10. The pub is quite a pleasant place to be. If you stop by for a quiet lunch, you’ll no doubt find someone to have blether with; whether they’re of this plane is another question!
O’Brien’s, Saltmarket, Glasgow
One of the rather interesting, typical Glasgow pubs, O’Brien’s is just off the Gallowgate, not far from where criminals were publically hanged, when such things were considered wholesome entertainment. During the 1970s, when the pub was known as Graham’s, it was apparently haunted by the ghost of a wee old lady wandering about in shawl. One thing to bear in mind about wee old ladies in Glasgow, particularly in the East End, is that they aren’t your average harmless granny – more than likely, you’ll ‘get yer heid in yer hauns tae play with’. And no, I have no idea what that means, other than it sounds ominous…
Saracen’s Head, Gallowgate, Glasgow
Something of a Weegie institution, and not a place for the faint hearted. However, it’s not the original ‘Sarry Heid’, as the place is known to locals. It dates from 1755, and originally stood across the road from where it is now. It has been investigated by the Ghost Finders Scotland paranormal group, who encountered a few interesting things. The bar is reputedly haunted by former owner Angus Ross, but even creepier is the human skull, which is said to belong to the last witch burned at the stake in Scotland, Maggie Wall. The skull keeps company with the regulars in a display cabinet in the bar.
Yates, Sauchiehall St, Glasgow
Yet another trendy bar in the city that suffers greatly from the maxim, “thou shalt get wellied, but not actually be able to have a conversation because the music must be at 200 decibels minimum”. I went there once. I didn’t stay long! However, back in the 1970s, it was known as The Maggie, and was home to what appears to have been a poltergeist. Chairs moved, glasses shook and cold spots were found in corners of the bar. One of the cleaners even refused to go near the back alone. Even more bizarre, but perhaps befitting of a Glasgow ghost, was the entity’s penchant for drinking the manager’s personal supply of vodka without even breaking the seal of the bottle.
The Arches, Argyle Street, Glasgow
More of a combination bar, theatre, nightclub and art gallery. It’s quite something. Situated in the arches below Glasgow Central Station, it’s an atmospheric place, and very easy to get lost in. During the Alien Wars event of 2009, the venue made the news thanks to the appearance of the ghost of young girl in old fashioned clothes. Apparently the cast of the show were scared of her, but it was believed she herself was scared by the side effects of the show.
Spooky Isles Scottish Correspondent M J STEEL COLLINS lives in Glasgow with her husband, a fellow purveyor of the supernatural, and daughter. She has a life long interest in ghosts and hauntings, which were the focus of the dissertation for her Sociology degree. She also runs her blog Ghostly Aspects (http://www.ghostlyaspects.blogspot.co.uk) and occasionally reviews books for the Fortean Times.