Work on the construction of the Armagh Gaol commenced in 1780. In the 19th century, conditions at the overcrowded gaol were said to be deplorable with as many as five men crammed into a cell. Reform was slow and arduous, and segregation of prisoners by gender and the nature of their crimes was problematic. Extensions were eventually built over the course of two decades and further modifications were made at the site to make conditions more tolerable for inmates. By 1920, the main block was predominantly used to incarcerate female prisoners, but a further extension later became necessary to accommodate political prisoners. As with all prisons, Armagh Gaol saw its fair share of violence with executions taking place on the site until 1904. Murders and gruesome protests also took place there up to its eventual closure in 1986.
Although a protected structure, fears have been expressed over the future of the decaying building as various parties continue to work on a sustainable plan for its future. One plan involved the conversion of the former jail into a luxury hotel, but this project was beset with delays and other issues and has not so far come to fruition. I can imagine though that there would be a long queue of patrons willing to spend the night in a renovated cell and to see if they can sense some of the ghosts that are said to remain in the locked-up slammer.
Doors slamming, disembodied voices, crying & footsteps, poltergeist activity, and full-bodied apparitions are among the phenomena reported at the former Armagh Gaol. Faces have been spotted looking out of the windows when the building has been empty, and a woman in white has been spotted on several occasions.
The Northern Ireland Greatest Haunts team visited the property in 2009. During their investigation, mediums claimed to have contacted two spirits, Daniel, and Jack. While Daniel’s spirit was placid and caused one of the team to be overcome with emotion, Jack was angry and abusive. Both spirits were encouraged to “crossover” during the investigation, but others are believed to remain and will perhaps make themselves known the building returns to use in whatever form is agreed.
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