As the story of the Enfield Poltergeist once again becomes the centre of media attention, ANN O’REGAN takes a look at Ireland’s scariest poltergeist hauntings.
Although stories of poltergeists have been associated with properties going back centuries in Ireland, proper accounts and media interest have been limited largely due to the fear of being accused of demon possession and occultism in this predominantly Catholic country.
It is surprising therefore, to find that the worst of Ireland’s poltergeist reports are all with in recent memory, some very recent indeed. More astonishing is that most of them are private residences, where the distress and trepidation of living with a paranormal entity far outweighed the fear of public ridicule and accusations, leading members of the terrorised families to publicise their accounts.
Court Street, Enniscorthy, County Wexford
In July 1910, the most a lodger would have to worry about was having enough shillings to make rent. However this was not the case for a man called Randell who shared board with two other lodgers and the family of the house.
Activity began with the pulling of bedclothes, but soon escalated into the dragging of beds across the room, chairs rocking and sliding of their own accord, disembodied footsteps and pounding sounds throughout the lodgings.
Such was the fear in the household that local sceptics were called in to disprove the phenomena as hysteria, but they were unsuccessful.
Finally, after just three weeks that culminated in the boarders being tossed from their beds onto the floor, Randell left the premises, terrified and almost a stone lighter from his ordeal. It was at this point that the activity ceased.
18 Hollywood Estate, Hollyhill, Cork
In 2010 a young family contacted the local media for help as they were being terrorised in their home by an unseen entity. What began as minor annoyances such as missing items and strange sounds, soon took a nasty turn for Laura Burke, her fiancé Richie and son Kyle.
Holy pictures were forcefully removed from the walls, time and time again. Furniture would shake and crash and clothes would be launched from wardrobes and drawers.
Screams would be heard in the dead of night and the climax was young Kyle being levitated and thrown from his bed. Terrified, the young family resorted to living with relatives as the council refused to rehouse them.
With the assistance of a local radio station, Shaman Paul O’Halloran was called in and he detected hundreds of spirits trapped in the house, including children and famine victims.
Whatever transpired after that remains inconclusive but the family never returned and the house remains boarded up and empty – of the living at least.
Corrib Park, Galway
When the Fahy family welcomed a granddaughter into their home, they had no idea of the horror they were about to unleash. Baby Sarah Louise was brought to the house in 1996 and that was the catalyst for a tirade of paranormal activity.
At first there was a strong smell of urine that would occur room by room. Ornaments would shatter and the bloodcurdling screams of a young child were heard in the night.
The Fahys knew when they were being visited by this restless spirit as the temperature of their home would plummet to freezing, after which time the knocking and smashing of objects would begin.
On speaking with locals, they discovered the house was built on old farmland and it is believed a man of the cloth fathered a child and murdered the same on that very spot to cover up his indiscretion.
Fearing for the safety of their grandchild, a spiritualist was called in to perform a healing and cleansing ceremony during which time the spirit of an infant was seen rising into the light and fading from view.
Olympia Theatre, 72 Dame Street, Dublin, D2
Originally known as The Star of Erin, Dublin’s Olympia Theatre was opened in 1878. Artists from Laurel and Hardy to Noel Coward and Alec Guinness have all performed in the Victorian building but there are some acts that prefer to be heard and not seen.
Poltergeist activity has been rife throughout the decades with stories of doors and windows rattling violently, ghostly footsteps echoing throughout and the violent destruction of a dressing room by an unseen entity.
First-hand accounts of her own terrifying encounters have been told by long time employee Maureen Grant. Her first experience of the poltergeist was when she was changing for a shift. Stood in just her underwear about to wash, the door to the bathroom shot open. Maureen closed it and as she turned to continue the door rattled and banged and her uniform flew off of the door hook.
A traumatised Maureen fled, grabbing her coat for decency and tore into the café. The fear increased as it dawned on her that the employee she suspected of playing a prank was in fact seated having a meal.
This was the beginning of a host of occurrences that saw lights switching on without being connected and the sound of a baby crying. A medium was brought in, however this just seemed to amplify the activity.
Focus moved to the bar now known as Maureen’s Bar, with glasses smashing and money jumping around in the cash registers, terrorising staff. It would appear the Olympia Theatre Poltergeist is settled in for a long residency.
Residential House, Kilmallock, County Limerick
A young man by the name of Callum recounted the terror that visited his family circa 2006. Immediately after his sister sustained a minor head trauma, she began to be tormented with blankets being taken and being ousted by an unseen force from her bed.
She became sickly and was ordered bed rest, during which time the poltergeist activity became stronger but completely focused on the terrified youngster. Banging sounds echoed continually around the bedroom, to the point where neighbours complained.
After the sibling recovered, activity settled, however relief was to be short lived. The bed started to elevate and drop, pictures would catapult from the walls and furniture would move around.
Concerned for the safety of their children, the parents sent them to live with family, however the activity followed so they returned home. When the activity grew more violent and Callum’s sister was getting dragged around and targeted by flying objects, priests were called in to cleanse the house and the girl, leading to the subsiding of poltergeist activity until it ceased altogether a few months later.
His claims have not been substantiated by any other source in part due to the privacy of the family and the reluctance of the Catholic Church to admit to such events. Whether a fanciful teen or genuine activity, we will never know for sure, however the town of Kilmallock is built on centuries of violence and bloodshed.
With that much ferocious energy echoing around the medieval stone walled parish, it is quite within the realms of possibility that some was unleashed and attached itself to an innocent young girl as she banged her head on the ground.