Paranormal Investigator Tina Barcoe is brave enough to regularly investigate at the location in Ireland known as ‘The Gates of Hell’ and has just finished yet another successful lockdown at Ireland’s most haunted house, Loftus Hall in County Wexford. As her team review their findings, ANN O’REGAN discovers more about one of Ireland’s leading figures in the paranormal and founder of Paranormal Researchers Ireland.
ANN: How did you become interested in the paranormal?
TINA: So I first got involved in the paranormal around 8 years ago (officially) although all my life I’ve loved all things supernatural, creepy and a bit different. In Ireland we are surrounded by ancient history and stories of ghosts and I felt I wanted to explore them a bit more.
Were you sceptical before this and do you try to debunk on your investigations?
As of yet I have never seen an apparition per se, but I have had experiences that have left me questioning my scepticism. I am open-minded but practical and investigate each occurrence on face value and not on suggestion. I try to rule out anything organic so I suppose I don’t try to debunk automatically, but it’s so important to rule out every day factors that can make you think it’s a haunting when quite often it is something more mundane.
Who or what inspired you to establish your own paranormal team?
My inspiration to start my own team came from my close friends, Wayne Bolger and Billy Cullen. I was on a team before, however I found it was going in a direction that was not for me. My passion was still for the paranormal and Wayne and Billy gave me the push I needed to start Paranormal Researchers Ireland. At that time, I didn’t know the opportunities we were going to get so I have been lucky for amazing support. Wayne has since become co-founder of PRI and behind the scenes he does so much.
Have you ever come into contact directly with a spirit or entity?
While I can’t say categorically that I have made direct contact with a spirit, I have had enough experiences to question my doubts.
What equipment do you use and what is your favourite method of collecting evidence?
We use a varied range of equipment, some very sensitive, some very technical. We will try to measure electromagnetic fields(EMF) before we proceed in any house or public investigation. In this way if anything disturbs the EMFs we can see if we can logically explain why – from wires to electricity supplies. so we do use a lot of EMF detectors. DVR system is a must as personal experiences are so important. This is particularly true when we are doing a private investigation and the client requires evidence. At least this way we can visually show something if we are lucky enough to experience it. Our thermal imager is a must to eliminate drafts in houses and detect hot and cold spots and sudden temperature drops. Our Electronic voice recorders pick up on any low frequency noise that we cannot hear with our own ears, then run through different filters to see if we can pick up any anomalies.
When investigating, do you find out the stories or “hot spots”, or prefer to go in cold?
When we go to a derelict house or castle we do not like to know the history, but a private house where people need help we do need to know all activity to establish exactly what’s happening
What do you like most about being a paranormal investigator?
My favourite thing about being an investigator is definitely the access we have been given to Ireland’s oldest and most beautiful buildings. This has been extended to having the opportunity to share this privilege with the public during our public lockdowns and investigations. Of course the main foundation is helping people who are perhaps dealing with stuff they just don’t understand and helping them to get peace of mind, as well as making some amazing friends along the way.
How often do you investigate and how do you plan an investigation?
We investigate every single week. It could be a big team event, a private house or just a few of us going into a remote building off the beaten track – I love those ones!
What is your most memorable investigation and why?
My most memorable investigation to date was with Wayne. We head alone when we can to investigate a full night as we are both very level headed so not a lot scares us. This night we stayed alone in Loftus Hall and we were on the middle floor. There was total darkness and behind me there was a huge bang, as if someone or something had psychically banged the shutter. We were certain it was inside and as I jumped and screamed out the EVP was recording and caught voices distant behind my screams. It sounded like a woman shouting and she seemed very upset. This we cannot explain…
You also help investigate at private clients’ homes. Why do you think this is important and how does it help them?
Home investigations are our priority. If it’s a private house, Wayne, Shayne, Bryan and myself will call and do an interview first. This is very important to work out what way we will proceed with the investigation. We can help people by debunking the creek in the floor at 2am or why the banging happens 11pm every night or discover it’s simply a gentle spirit trying to get attention. We will not close the case till we are confident our clients are not living in fear anymore.
What advice would you give to someone looking to join a group or start their own?
For someone looking to join a team my advice would be think long and hard as it is a huge commitment. Long nights, cold buildings and a bit of climbing and crawling into dark basements. Look for teams in your area and link with them to get some experience and see how you go from there.
PRI has a fantastic pedigree and the team is exceptional. Introduce us to them!
My team is my back bone and they are my best friends. We all help each other in our private lives as well as on PRI work. Wayne Bolger is the co- founder of PRI and does all the work behind the scenes as well as our social media. In short PRI wouldn’t function without my best friend so I’m lucky to have met him. Shayne Phelan is our rock and camera man, pushing the team forward all the time and never stops. Hail, rain, snow Shayne is there and hugely involved in private investigations, helping people all the time. Natalie is in charge of all our private work, tirelessly doing all the research and visiting the locations before reporting back. Bryan Byrne is our life line with behind the scenes analysis and all the photos we get sent daily to our page. Without him we would find it difficult to give people peace of mind. They might think a demon is sitting beside them in a photo at a family party yet Bryan will run it through filters and nearly all the time find an explanation – he’s great. Billy Cullen is our sound specialist who patiently filters through hours and hours of audio, he is a Godsend and such a professional. Chris Rush is our historian and his knowledge is endless. I have never met a guy who will do so much, When Chris arrived to PRI he brought so much to us we really could not move forward without him… Marie Byrne is also my rock. She is the lady that kicks me when I need kicking in order to keep going. She runs all the public events when I’m not there and is the level head needed when my head malfunctions. Trish Doyle is our team medium. I had never needed a psychic on the team, until that is Trish showed interest. Trish has a beautiful soul, lovely woman and true and honest to what she does. She is there for advice all the time and a good friend to all the team. Finally, we have Liam Canty, our trainee investigator, lively and reliable who has settled in well and has the same approach to investigating. The PRI team really is family.
Two of your biggest projects are lockdowns at Loftus Hall and Wicklow Gaol – tell us more?
We are not an events team, as I said before our priority is to help people. In saying that we do events in Loftus Hall and Wicklow Gaol as we would have been mad not to have welcomed these opportunities with open arms. They are both amazing buildings for different reasons. Loftus has a darker history and activity has never let us down. A lot of sceptics and sensitive people have had personal experiences. Wicklow Gaol has a sadness about it. People have reported feeling a child tugging on their coat many times. Wicklow Gaol is also very active so I am honoured to be running both.
Outside of PRI you love horror and the spooky! Tell us more!
Bizarrely, despite what I do week in week out I am such a scaredy cat when it comes to some horror. I’ve recently admitted to the team my phobia of chain saws from the movie I watched when I was quiet young and they get a great kick out of that. I’m addicted to all things Halloween and I oddly love the sensation of being scared. Myself and Wayne done all the Halloween events this year and are still jumping now!!!!
I’m also a history geek so I cannot get enough of historical buildings along with ghost stories, Irish mythology and folklore.
What’s next for Tina Barcoe and PRI?
I am delighted to announce that PRI is going international in 2017. We also have YouTube channel being set up and we will be carrying out a lot more investigations in some very well known locations. None of this would be possible without every person on the team and I look forward to seeing what frights and delights next year brings for us all!
2017 will start as it means to go on with the chance for members of the public to ‘Enter the Gates of Hell’ by joining Tina and her team on 11 February 2016 at historic Wicklow Gaol.To find out more about this opportunity, Tina and Paranormal Researchers Ireland, visit her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.