Warren Coates, the founder of Northern Ireland Paranormal Research Association, talks to JOHN AMBROSE MARTIN about his many spooky adventures…
JOHN AMBROSE MARTIN: I remember when we first met, it was Halloween 2018. I attended a NIPRA public paranormal event at the beautiful Firmount House. This is the night I really came to appreciate your perspective and approach to paranormal investigations. What I’d like to do is revisit a couple of questions and build on some answers you gave us some time ago when you were first wrote for Spooky Isles. For our readers who haven’t had a chance to read it, I would encourage you to click on the link below and catch up!
Warren Coates Interview
JAM: Warren, you previously told us that a turning point for you from sceptic to believer was in a graveyard, when you and your brother saw a shadow figure move along the walkway and into a church.
Warren Coates: Yes, this was at Woburn Church in Millisle in County Down. There have always been reports of ghostly going on from it. We had visited the church and graveyard several times, but no activity happened to us and we were giving it one more chance. It was around 7pm on a summer’s evening when we arrived, we had a stroll through the graveyard then sat down, back against the church and looked at the laneway and graves.
Around an hour or so later, we were both aware of what looked like a column of mist slowly making its way up the lane towards the graves, around 5 feet tall and dark grey. It slowly moved over the path and went between several headstones. We were stunned but tried to follow it, but it completely disappeared behind a headstone.
We later found out several people over the years have reported the same swirling misty form. We couldn’t find anything logical – it wasn’t midges or flies that’s for sure! This was to be a major turning point in my life regarding the paranormal and spirit.
JAM: In the past 10 years, have you had any other encounters or experiences that have reinforced your beliefs in the world of spirit?
WC: Over the years, we have been fortunate enough to be able to investigate several big locations. I personally have seen a full apparition and some sightings have looked solid and tangible, others just like shadows or dark shapes.
JAM : You previously described experiences at two amazing locations, Crumlin Road Gaol and Richhill Castle. Can you tell us about another location that made an impression on you and the team?
WC: One private house on the Antrim Road in Belfast had a profound effect on several members of NIPRA. The house had a very big connection with the Battle of the Somme. One figure was witnessed by myself and three members of the group. It leaned into the room looking at us sitting in a circle. The figure we saw looked young and dressed in a historic army uniform and was badly burnt on its face. Again the people in the house told us nothing of what was going on, we didn’t research anything but relied on spirit to communicate with us and give us the information we were looking for.
Several times we were aware of the figure and each time we spoke to him we tried to reassure him that he could trust us. Over a few weeks, we got information regarding him, his brother and grandfather which we were able to verify with the owners. This was a very big case which had people in the group either more tuned to spirit or with one member he had to leave as the activity had unnerved him so much.
JAM: You hear people talk about good and bad spirits, angels and demons and so on. I’d like to hear your take on what we might be dealing with as investigators?
WC: Yes, it’s really annoying hearing so called paranormal investigators straight away talking about demonic energies trying to possess or kill people. Maybe there are demons but I haven’t encountered any yet. What I have encountered are spirits looking for help, spirits who have been nasty in life and still in death.
Most of the time if things are being moved or thrown at someone, it is to draw their attention, not to hit or hurt them. The spirit could be so frustrated and angry that nobody is speaking to them or taking any notice so they throw things, slam doors, turn lights on or off or even hit or push someone – again just trying to get attention of the living, they might not even know they are dead.
JAM: The scientific community largely shuns paranormal investigation as there has never been an experiment achieved that’s repeatable and in a controlled environment that would satisfy scientific scrutiny. Do you think that it will always be this way or do you believe, eventually science will be able to get a handle on what’s happening in the paranormal field?
WC: I think eventually science will work hand in hand with investigators of the paranormal, but it will be with select groups. Some equipment used by investigators works and gets results. So yes, I think they will work together, but not while some of the TV groups are around.
JAM: You told us previously that you are a spirit-based team. What are your favourite methods of communicating with the world of spirit?
WC: Circle work, plain and simple. Regular members sitting in a circle, once or twice a week will show and build some amazing results. Once spirit starts to work and communicate with you, the bridge gets stronger and stronger all the time.
JAM: Are there any communication methods you simply refuse to use, for example, ouija board, tarot cards etc.
WC: Talking board or table tilting, no games.
JAM: Being brave and spending time alone in dark rooms is normal for investigators. But can you tell us about a fear or something that would scare you as a paranormal investigator?
WC: Having to listen to Daniel O’Donnell lol, fear the living not the dead.
JAM: Moving away from spooks for a moment. I’m curious on your thoughts about other “strange happenings”. Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, UFOs, aliens, they are getting popular on the news the past couple of years, especially now that more military personnel are telling their stories and having video footage to back it up. Do you believe we are alone in the universe, or are there other lifeforms out there and are they visiting Earth?
WC: I definitely don’t think we’re alone, just look at the night sky and the milky way, every star is a sun like ours which could have a planet like ours in the Goldilocks zone just the right distance from the sun. I don’t believe all the people who say they have been abducted, I do think it may happen but not to the extent people say.
I do believe in alien intervention with humans, star people manipulating the DNA of humans to get us to change, what for, I don’t know. But I really hope that alien life will be in contact with us in my lifetime. I think that most of the UFOs we see in the night sky are government black projects, back engineered from alien technology that they are trading with us.
JAM: Bringing things back to Earth. What does a NIPRA location bucket list look like? What are the top three locations you would love to investigate with your team?
JAM: Finally Warren, NIPRA is the longest active team in Ireland, having been established since 1991. You have been investigating long before the team’s inception, so tell us, what keeps you motivated? What questions are you still trying to find the answers to?
WC: I do get very annoyed and fed up with groups who don’t have a clue about the paranormal field getting out there. I have been very close to closing NIPRA down but I get so annoyed at some of these groups, I decided not to let it come to that. I have gone through far too much to throw it away at this stage!