Crumlin Road Gaol: What ghosts lurk within its walls?

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Crumlin Road Gaol is reportedly full of ghosts. Belfast’s MARK YOUNG looks at the haunted happenings between its infamous walls.

One of the most famous buildings in Belfast also just happens to be one of the most haunted.

Crumlin Road Gaol is found on the Crumlin Road a short distance from Belfast City Centre.

It is a registered-listed building and is the only Victorian era prison in Belfast still standing.

Crumlin Road Gaol
Crumlin Road Gaol Belfast

It was still an active prison up until March 1996 when the last prisoner left and was officially closed in 1998.

An estimated total of 25,000 people were imprisoned at the Gaol during its term.
It was designed by the famous Sir Charles Lanyon at a cost of £60,000 and was built between 1843 and 1845.

Since 1998 it has been in regular use for ghost hunts, which isn’t surprising considering it haunted history.

The prison has a history of carrying out the death penalty.

C-Wing is home to the famous ‘Condemned Man’s Cell’. This cell was responsible for the death of 17 people and the noose still hangs to this day.

Of the 17 people killed in the gaol the remains of 15 are still inside the Gaol walls today while two were re-interred in Milltown Cemetery. The last person hanged in this cell was Robert McGladdery. He was hanged, aged 25, on 20 December 1961, by executioner Harry Allen.

Ghost hunters visit Crumlin Road Gaol

Ghost hunters and visitors to the former prison have reported several sightings and have also reported hearing strange sounds.

Doors can be heard slamming shut by themselves. Male and female voices can be heard clearly calling out for help.

A man who walks down the “C wing” and disappears has been seen by a lot of people.
One of the most haunted regions of the prison is the tunnel that runs under the main Crumlin Road and connects the prison to the famous Courthouse.

Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast.
Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast.

Even in the days when the prison was active Prison wardens reported strange goings on in the tunnel. A grey figure is commonly reported to be seen in this tunnel.

Recently ghost hunters have several recordings, on camcorder and digital voice recorder, of a man’s groan, sigh, cough and whistling. These where captured when they knew nobody else was present with them.

There is also the famous ‘face in the coffin’ picture captured by one person on a visit to the gaol. B-wing is home to the padded cell.

This cell is reportedly the most terrifying in the whole gaol.

People have reported be touched or pushed while instead the cell. Many visitors to this cell have reported an overwhelming feeling of unease and the presence of a dark figure lurking in the corners. B-Wing is also the home of a ghostly prison warden, who can still be heard with his loud footsteps walking down the wing.

People have also reported seeing a large dark figure that drifts from cell to cell.
Could this be the warden still carrying out his daily duties?

D-Wing is said to be home to a ghost of a man who stands in the doorways and simply watches what visitors are doing.

Doors in this wing are known to slam shut of their own accord. Objects have also been known to get thrown across rooms or just simply vanish into the air in D-Wing. The gaol is also said to be home to a number of other ghosts who are all only too happy to let you know they are still around as well.

It’s not hard to believe that after all the emotions and trauma witnessed in this building, that several of the past visitors have refused to move on and are still living in the gaol.

The gaol from the outside is beautiful to look at but once inside that quickly changes to terrifying.

So if you’re ever in Belfast and have time I would advise you to visit the gaol and maybe even take a tour, who knows you might even meet one of the resident ghosts!

MARK YOUNG says: “I am a paranormal investigator based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I have investigated many alleged paranormal occurrences all over NI and Great Britain. I was fascinated in the paranormal as a young child. It was normal for my Grandfather to have us huddled round the fire with the lights out, while he was telling us traditional Irish ghost stories.

My favourite story was about Galloper Thompson who is said to Haunt North Belfast on a horse. I have studied paranormal stories from all over Northern Ireland and I eventually took up paranormal investigating after my family had a few ghostly experiences. I had so many questions from them that I wanted answers. Then eventually I was asked into a paranormal group and the interest has grown from there. I am particularly interested in the story of Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle clashing over their beliefs.

I continue to work and investigate the paranormal on a daily basis from my home in Newtownabbey. I hope to have a blog up and running shortly connected with all the paranormal stories from Northern Ireland and investigations into them.”

You can follow Mark on twitter at @markyoung23


  1. I visiting Crumlin Road Gaol several years ago, and I felt several presences while there. I walked into a cell and I immedialtely felt like I hade to get out of there. I couldn’t go back in, kept getting the same feeling. Then when going down to were the people were hung, I stood in the corner, it was dark and it felt like someone was also in that same corner with me, I had to move..It felt terrible. This Gaol affected me for weeks, I had an overpowering sense of depression from the experience.


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