Derry Halloween 2014: Derry’s Most Haunted

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Tuesday past, a team of young Verbal Arts Centre Journalists, including myself, embarked on a daring spirit hunt, around some of the spookiest locations within Derry’s city centre.

Armed with cameras and microphones, we were accompanied by historian Mark Lusby, and medium Rewina Corner and her team of mediums and psychics. Our first haunted location was the Verbal Arts Centre, situated at the entrance of Bishop’s Gate, linked directly to the Walls. Mark Lusby shared with us the history of the building.

VAC Halloween video

VAC Halloween video

It was first opened as Derry’s first Presbyterian School in the early 19th Century and housed pupils who were orphaned and homeless. The building was also used during the Second World War and by the British Army, however is eerily unclear HOW it was used.

As Rewina and her team entered the upstairs “Blue Coat Room”, they were taken back by something “hitting” them as they walked through the door. They referenced hearing crying noises – that could even be a choir that once practised in the room.

Perhaps their creepiest discovery was a deep burning/heat sensation they all felt. It turns out the last witch to be burned in Derry was burned just outside, at Bishop’s Gate. Getting spookier, as we were about to leave, Rewina sensed the presence of a young boy, crying. Perhaps one of the orphans from the old school. We left for our next location on edge to what we had just discovered.

As we walked towards the Guildhall, we passed the Presbyterian Church. Mark Lusby informed us that the car park next to the church is believed to be a mass burial ground, perhaps from around the time of the siege, as Rewina’s team picked up evil vibes from the area. This is why the space has not yet been built on.

As we stood next to the Tower Hotel, Rewina got a strange feeling that we were walking over something malevolent. After some time she informed us she was getting the sensation of a tunnel just beneath her feet. Eerily, Mark Lusby informed us that nine bodies are believed to be trapped inside a tunnel underneath that exact part on Derry’s Walls.

The area had been used during siege times for troops to get in and out of the city for attack. The mediums also picked up a rather monastic vibe from the area, and once again they were correct. Mark told us that Colmcille took pilgrims in and out of that exact area, and dating back to medieval times the street was where most of the monastic practises began.

We arrived at the Guildhall, which looked especially chilling in the pitch black of night. As we turned the lights off in the Great Hall, all of the mediums reported a tight feeling in their stomach. One of the mediums saw three faces on the balcony and sensed movement, so we all went up to investigate. Once there, the caretaker informed us of Sam, the ghost that haunts the hall. He has been seen numerous times on the balcony. Could it have been Sam who the medium saw?

The caretaker told us that Sam wore a superintendent navy uniform, with a black coat and brass fastens. Could this explain the tight feeling the mediums felt in their stomachs?

The Guildhall didn’t provide us with a lot of evidence, but the heavy feeling it had impacted upon us, is impossible to put into words.

From there we went to investigate the Sally Port Tunnels. The Tunnels aren’t opened to the public and we gained exclusive access. It is unsure where most of the tunnels lead to or what they were used for but Mark Lusby offered an explanation: the location of the tunnels make them ideal for getting troops out behind attacker if need be. This way, they would surround whoever is attacking the city.

Once inside the tunnels we noticed another tunnel shot up directly to the walls. This is believed where those inside the wall would pour boiling tar on top of the enemy trying to gain access bellow, obviously resulting in a rather dark energy in the tunnel.

The mediums seemed to be drawn to the back wall of the tunnel. Rewina sensed a man trapped there, perhaps from the siege days, but one overwhelming feeling took over them all: RUN!

Perhaps the scariest time in the tunnel was when a spider descended into the group sending everyone into hysterics: a funny end to a rather spooky evening.

When looking back at our footage, one picture really stood out. One shot in the Verbal Arts Centre can be seen to contain around 30 orbs – balls of energy, usually spirits, trying to make contact.

The experience of the night made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and questioned a lot of my beliefs.

We collected a lot of evidence and made ourselves uncomfortable doing so but one overriding question remains: do you believe?