Derry Halloween: Is this the ghost of Boom Hall?

The ghostly image captured by Gavin Whitwell at one of the windows at Boom Hall. The image seems to resemble a witch-like profile of a face in the bottom right hand side.
The ghostly image captured by Gavin Whitwell at one of the windows at Boom Hall. The image seems to resemble a witch-like profile of a face in the bottom right hand side.

A local man has shared a photograph he captured at Boom Hall which seems to show a witch-like face in profile.

Gavin Whitwell captured the spooky image several years ago.

Mr Whitwell, along with a few friends, used to go down and walk around Boom Hall in summertime.

He said this picture was taken during the day, and that he never noticed anything until he got home that same night.

“I was really freaked out but intrigued,” he said. “I’ve been down many times after taking pictures but this was the only one the ghost was in.”

Boom Hall- which is located on the west bank of the River Foyle near the Foyle Bridge- is now in a ruinous state- but was once one of the grandest residences in Derry.

The house was named after the boom which was laid across the Foyle by the Jacobite army as they held off King William’s forces from trying to reach the besieged Walled City of Derry in the 17th Century.

The breaking of the boom was to prove a turning point for the starving Planter families trapped inside the City Walls, which were built around 60 years earlier.

Since its construction 90 years after the Siege in 1779, Boom Hall has been the source of many myths, ghost stories and legends.

The Journal earlier this week shared an extract taken from ‘Haunted Derry’ by Madeline McCully.

Can you see it? A close up of the spectral image, which some say shows the profile a face.  (Photo by Gavin Whitewell)

Can you see it? A close up of the spectral image, which some say shows the profile a face. (Photo by Gavin Whitewell)

It reads: “Because of the many changes of ownership it is difficult to pinpoint who the spectres that haunt it may be.

“One story involved a girl. She had been sent to stay with the Alexanders in an effort to remove her from the attention of a young groomsman employed in her own home in England. Love being what it is, the young man followed her and hid out in the stables where they had secret trysts. When they were discovered, the girl was locked in an upstairs bedroom and the young man was banished. The girl pined and a few weeks later there was a fire in the bedroom.

“The family frantically fought the flames, terrified that the young girl under their protection would die such a horrific death, but eventually when the flames were extinguished the body of the young girl was not to be found.

“Perhaps she did die or more likely she made her escape to follow the young man. Some years ago a group of people were visiting the ruined hall, and they were adamant that in the gloom of the late afternoon a shimmering form of a young woman appeared at the aperture where a top window once was.”

I’ve been down many times after taking pictures but this was the only one the ghost was in.

Gavin Whitwell

The book also details how Miss McDevitt - the last person to reside at Boom Hall- when questioned about its reputation as a haunted house, replied:

“Of course it is. They keep me company. There’s no need to fear the dead. It’s the living that will do you harm.”

The book also states: “A well-known local historian, Ken McCormack, tells of an even stranger story that came to light when William Alexander’s anecdotal notes were discovered. According to these notes, Martha Waller married Sir Robert Alexander in 1793. They had four children; the youngest, Waller, was born in 1796, just a year after his brother Robert. The two boys had the freedom of the extensive grounds of Boom Hall and often played in the front area. When he was eight he visited his grandparents in Drogheda and his parents were delighted to hear that he was enjoying himself immensely. Some weeks into his visit, his paternal grandmother, Anne Alexander, who lived with her son’s family in Boom Hall, was descending the stairs and happened to look out of the window. Waller was playing and running around the front lawn. Anne rushed downstairs to see him, delightedly calling to Martha about how happy she was to have Waller back home. Martha looked at her strangely and answered that Waller was still in Drogheda. The old lady decided to say nothing more but had a very uneasy feeling about what she had seen.

“Two days later the terrible news arrived that Waller had suddenly been taken ill and died at the exact same time when old Mrs Alexander had seen him playing on the front lawn of Boom Hall.

“There are other stories told of spirits haunting Boom Hall, its grounds and stables. Perhaps they are the spirits of the families who lived there previously: James, the 3rd Earl of Caledon, Thomas Bunbury Gough, the Dean of Derry, Daniel Baird and his wife Barbara, the Cooke family, and the Maturin-Bairds. Every family has its secrets, and some only emerge after death, so beware when walking on haunted grounds.”

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One of the windows at Boom Hall.

One of the windows at Boom Hall.

The stables at Boom Hall.

The stables at Boom Hall.