JOHN AMBROSE MARTIN sat down with founder Matthew Clarke and his paranormal team to find out the people and the experiences behind the Cork Supernatural Society.
Interview with Cork Supernatural Society
JOHN: Who are the Cork Supernatural Society?
MATTHEW: Cork Supernatural Society is a non profit team of paranormal investigators based in Cork City that was founded in 2013. We actually started with the aim to debunk paranormal activity, and although we have in most cases, we have come across some amazing and truly bizarre activity in the years since.
We have nine in our team currently. These include:
- Jackie Clarke, co-founder
- Matthew Clarke, co-founder, and the lead investigator and location finder
- Paul Keating, tech
- Tara Nic Uilcín, investigator
- Trevor Murphy, investigator and also tech
- Barrie Jordan, historian
- Tanya Rodger, social media and investigator
- Kim O’ Shea, media and lead investigator
- Eric Collins, investigator.
Has your interest in the supernatural always been within you or was there a particular moment that sparked your curiosity?
No, not really. I was never a believer in the paranormal until I was around 10 or 11, and myself and my sister went for a walk in the grounds of Nano Nagle Place here in Cork City.
As we were leaving, my sister pointed to a window in the convent, and we could both see what looked like smoke in an empty room. We stood there for about two minutes, which drew an older couple walking a dog in the grass to come over and check on us.
As the man approached us, the smoke had turned into a full outline of a human body, and I will never forget seeing the arm and fingers develop. I will also never forget the faces of the old couple, as they could also see the apparition.
From then on, I was hooked on paranormal research and, at a young age, got involved in starting a paranormal research group with my family, which has become the Cork Supernatural Society.
What inspired you to form a paranormal research team?
The above experience at Nano Nagle Place was the reason for starting a paranormal group. I was also always from a young age fascinated by old buildings, like the Cork City Gaol and Our Lady’s Asylum (where I spent my youth exploring and trying to sneak into the asylum).
Is the team exclusively science and technology focused, or do you have any mediums or sensitives in your group?
Technology focused. We do have two members who you may call sensitive, but the way we have always looked at it is, if its not caught on camera or audio it never happened. We will of course take note of anything felt by any member of the group, but we will never present anything as paranormal in nature unless we have footage or audio to back it up.
What is your most favourite piece of equipment?
My new night vision body camera is fantastic, but you can’t beat a good audio recorder.
Can you tell us about one of your favourite locations to investigate and why you love it so much?
Ballyvourney De Salle College, the only building where we ever got some level of activity on every investigation. The building is most well-known for being the industrial school in the movie “Song for a Raggy Boy”, but its one of the few locations I can say without any doubt is haunted.
Class A EVPs recorded here by us include “I am a priest,” someone praying, Jackie (a team member’s name) was called out twice, “They cannot see the naked crosses”, and much more. Also on the spirit box, whenever a female team member talked, “GET OUT” was clearly heard in response through the spirit box.
In Ireland, is there an ultimate location for you, one that you are just “dying” to investigate?
In Ireland, I would love to do Charleville Castle or Wicklow Jail this year. Dream location would be the Tower of London.
Are there any other areas of the paranormal that interest you, UFO, BigFoot etc? What are your thoughts?
To be honest, I have only ever researched and focused on ghosts and alleged hauntings. But I would be open to investigating and learning about other areas of the paranormal in the future.
What are your thoughts on paranormal television shows? Are you a fan of any in particular?
I don’t watch any paranormal TV shows, and they are a million miles away from being like a real paranormal investigation. Sometimes I must admit I do watch the old Most Haunted with the late Derek Acroah, who although ridiculous always made me smile!
Are you a believer, sceptic, or something in-between?
I am a very sceptical investigator, as I find that 99 percent of the time, alleged paranormal activity can be debunked. But I have seen, heard, and recorded too much now to not be a believer, so yes, I am a strong believer in the paranormal.
What would you do if a full body apparition appeared in front of you and said, “Hello?”
I tend to freeze when something very scary happens. So I would probably just stand there in shock, looking back at it! Hopefully, I would press record on my camera!
Can each of you name a “bucket list” haunted location you either have or would like to visit at some point?
- Matthew Clarke: Tower of London.
- Eric Collins: Edinburgh Castle.
- Barrie Joran: I missed when the lads went to Leap Castle, so for me, I would love to go there or Loftus Hall.
- Paul Keating: I’d love to do Newgrange, just to feel the energy.
- Kim O’ Shea: I suppose Ducketts Grove would be my favourite location. Been there three times and it never disappoints.
- Jackie Clarke: Magdalene Laundries, St Kevins Asylum, Leap Castle, Elizabeth Fort and Ducketts Grove are my favourite past locations. Bucket list would be Bran Castle, Windsor Castle, and the Tower of London.
- Tanya Rodgers: Sallie House or the Ancient Ram Inn.
- Tara Nic Uilcín: Anywhere in New Orleans, but particularly Marie Laveau’s house, or Aokigahara Forest in Japan.
- Trevor Murphy: The list is too long but here are a few: Edinburgh Castle and Dungeons. The Ancient Ram Inn. The site of the Battle of Bannockburn. Wicklow Gaol. Kilmainham Gaol. Bealick Mill. The Pillars Bar, Cobh. The Oval Bar.
Your team attended the Day Of The Unexplained Paranormal Convention 2023 this past February 18th. What did you take away from the day?
I spent the entire day, listening and trying to learn from people who have been at this a lot longer than I have. Although I did disagree with a lot of what I heard, I am open to trying out and approaching our own investigations differently in the future based on some things I heard. It was also great to see so many groups from Ireland mix and get on so well.