It’s been a while since we’ve talked about a paranormal pokey! The original Wicklow Gaol (Jail) was built in 1702, where the conditions for inmates extremely harsh. Yeah, no cable TV, no pizza Fridays and definitely no internet, hellish right! To make matters worse there was no separation. That means that women, homicidal maniacs, town drunks, political prisoners and even a priest were all tossed into gen pop and pretty much told “good luck ya’ll!”
See, the way it went down back then, is that the dude in charge of the prison was paid a healthy wage to oversee all of this madness. Out of his wages he was supposed to house, clothe and feed the prisoners. Get the picture?
These morally unfit individuals answered to no one, so, there was no body to complain to. But if you had a little cash, you could bribe these assholes for better conditions. The poor bastards that were thrown into this joint that had no money were pretty much screwed. A lot of times these prisoners were sold off to ship captains as slaves, so, there was always that to look forward to!
Well, during the great Irish potato famine in the 1840s and early ’50s, the number of inmates swelled to 780. That means that there were a bunch of bad asses crammed into every tiny cell. So, there was then the definite need to expand, that went down in 1843.
The building was closed as a prison in 1900, then reopened in 1918 during the Irish War for Independence. It closed again in 1924 and was partially demolished in 1954. Over the centuries, many prisoners died there, mostly of starvation, disease, and mistreatment and of course the occasional shanking.
The entrance is locally known as “The Gates of Hell,” tagged this because folks knew that once they went though that entry way, there was little chance they’d ever come out again. Numerous ghostly accounts have been reported at Wicklow, and it has been investigated by Ghost Hunters International and Irish Ghosthunters, among many other groups. Reported activity includes:
The feeling of being touched by unseen hands; some have had their hair pulled.
A staff member was shoved out of the gates.
An eerie mist has been seen on the walkway to the second floor cells.
A visitor reported seeing a woman in 19th century dress. When she was shown a picture of Mary Morris, a matron known to be associated with the prison, she said, “That’s her, only younger.”
The ghost of a little girl is said to haunt the schoolroom. She has been seen to materialize and sometimes just to poke visitors on the thigh or pull their clothing.
Dublin-based medium Declan Flynn claimed to contact the ghost of deceased Irish President Erskine Childers there. Erskine was a prisoner for one night in the jail.
The resident tour guide here has had many experiences as well. She’s encountered a lady in her late 20s, dressed completely in black, several times. She walks in and out of cell 22 on the first floor. Another common event is the appearance of a cold and eerie mist that envelops the walkway to the first floor cells. This has been seen by multiple people over a number of years.
Last year, a group of primary school students from Austria were dumbstruck when the hanging mist latched onto their teacher and enveloped her in a huge ball, moving with her. On another occasion, an elderly woman passed out in cell 12, which tells the story of Wicklow rebel, Billy Byrne. The old chick refused to continue the tour. She later stated that she felt a pressure around her neck and couldn’t breathe. Billy Byrne was hanged there in the gaol and many people think this is Billy himself trying to be heard. There are other reports, especially by those who work there that have reported seeing the entire floor in front of moving around on its own.
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