Newry City Tours are based in Northern Ireland and describe themselves as ‘Purveyors of Dark Tourism in Ireland.’ With a number of ghost tours and hunts available, all with solid historical background checks, it is hard to disagree!
ANN O’REGAN spoke with Founder Martin Murtagh to find out more.
ANN: Welcome to The Spooky Isles Martin. Newry City Tours provides ghost tours and ghost hunts at some of Ireland’s most haunted locations. Tell us how long you have been going and how it all started?
MARTIN: Thanks for having me. I have travelled extensively and visited some of the most haunted cities and towns in Europe and further afield. When I came home I realised Newry had so much potential as a ghost tourist destination because its history was so dark and it had so many hauntings associated with it. You could say I embraced that and developed a business plan to run parallel to it, thus Newry City Tours came into being in 2013.
You clearly have a passion for the paranormal, when did it all begin for you and what have been some your own experiences that lead you into paranormal investigation?
My home was very haunted, it still is. The house is dating back to the 1920s I use to live in the servant’s quarters in the attic and I had many ghostly encounters as a youngster. To try to explain what was happening to me and to give me peace of mind I spent many years researching the paranormal, the occult and esoteric subjects and this led to path that I’m on today.
As a paranormal investigator, have you ever had negative experiences on investigations and what location left you disappointed due to a lack of activity?
Investigations can attract the wrong sort of people who create their own demons. I’ve investigated locations and seen evidence of rituals that someone has done and often there’s no proper closure to it and that can lead to all sorts of issues. While most youngsters will have fooled around with an Ouija board, there are some rituals that allow all sorts of astral interference in that just aren’t good for you. With quiet locations I’m rarely disappointed because it often means I can get an early night!
Sometimes evidence of paranormal activity isn’t necessarily what makes a location terrifying – often it can just be the site itself. What is the scariest place you have ever visited and why?
The scariest location has to be the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, it’s as close to Hell on Earth as I’ve experienced. Without even hearing about the history the vibes there are not good. It’s a very dark place but well worth a visit.
One of the things that makes Newry City Tours stand out is the fact that you research your locations thoroughly beforehand, meaning accurate historical content provides the foundation of your tours. What is involved with regards to your research?
I just couldn’t be true to myself talking about made up nonsense and fake ghost stories. If people are paying good money they deserve only the true ghost stories behind one of Ireland’s most haunted cities. I spend a lot of time in the information library, searching through public records, contacting surviving family members and exploring old graveyards to try and explain the magnitude of hauntings that plague Newry.
What are some of the locations you visit on your tours and what kind of spooky activity occurs?
On the Psychic Ghost Walk we start at Trevor Hill, one of the oldest streets in Newry that has many ghosts and building associated with it. We have exclusive access to Gallow Hills (referred by locals as Hangman’s Hill), its history as the name suggests is a dark one; United Irishmen, George Cochrane and Thomas Lowans where hanged, drawn and quartered here for their part in the 1798 rebellion. We also visit St Patrick’s Church, the oldest “Reformed Church”, and considered to be one of the most haunted churches, if not most haunted churches in all of Ireland. We finish the tour at St Colman’s Parochial Hall and the tunnels beneath it. I just cannot get my head around the number of ghosts that haunt the location and if you are sensitive there’s a good chance you’ll connect.
Newry City Tours offers all age appropriate walks but also offers an adult only Psychic Ghost Walk – tell us a bit more about that.
The Psychic Ghost Walk was the original tour. It’s a memorable glimpse into life, death and our grisly past before we take you into the bowels beneath the city streets and give you the opportunity to connect with some of the energies that have made their home there. It’s not for the faint hearted.
With Halloween coming up you will undoubtedly be busier than ever. What are your plans?
Halloween is a fantastic time of year and it’s perhaps my favourite not because I enjoy scaring people – I would never do that – honest! But it’s a celebration of change through the ancient tradition of Samhain. It’s something that was always celebrated in my own home growing up and I want to share that with others. This year we have a fortnight of dark tours including Children’s Ghost Walks, Adult-Psychic Ghost Walks, and Paranormal Investigations.