The Jervis Shopping Centre opened in 1996. What many visitors – especially from overseas – may not know, is that the centre was built on the site of the Jervis Street Hospital which closed in 1987.
Part of the hospital façade which dates to when the hospital was rebuilt in the 1800s was incorporated into the design of the new building, and with nearly 200 years of life-drama etched into the fabric of the site, it should come as no surprise that a few of the hospital ghosts have seemingly adapted to afterlife in the modern shopping centre.
In 2008, a journalist working at a radio station in the building witnessed a ghostly figure walking up the stairs. She did not speak of her encounter until she was working in the studio one night and heard a female voice singing a lullaby. Assuming that it was a radio that had been left on, she went over to switch the device off, only to discover that the radio had not been switched on. The sound suddenly stopped but it resumed when she returned to her desk.
Although she was not afraid by either of her encounters, she was keen to find out whether any of her co-workers had noticed anything unusual. And sure enough, they had. One of her colleagues had witnessed a grey figure passing through a solid wall, while another heard coughing when they were alone in the studio. A chair was also seen moving of its own accord.
As word spread that radio station staff had experienced unusual activity in the building, more and more staff from stores and offices across Jervis Shopping Centre began to come forward and share their own stories.
The ghost of a nurse dressed in period uniform was spotted on more than one occasion. This story was validated by someone who used to work at the old hospital, and who confirmed that it was known to her and her colleagues that the ghost of a night nurse dressed in a long grey dress with a nurse’s hat haunted the old children’s ward. It is said that a child died in her care one night and that the nurse was so upset, her spirit returned to keep watch over the hospital’s younger patients even though the ward and its patients have long since gone.
A male employee recalled arriving for work early one morning and walking down the corridor towards the toilets when he encountered a mysterious woman talking quietly to herself. He could see her lips moving, but no sound was coming out. Finding this unusual and thinking she needed help, he addressed the stranger, but when she turned to look at him, she quickly faded away.
The sound of a baby crying startled two employees on separate occasions while they were working alone in their locked-up store. The sound of children singing was reported emanating from a deserted stock room in one of the anchor stores, while another employee described having a “horrible” feeling that they were not alone and witnessed a figure standing by a trolley as she ascended the stairs to retrieve stock from a storeroom in another part of the building.
Others working at or visiting the Jervis Shopping Centre claim to have experienced cold spots, had feelings of unease, heard disembodied voices, and witnessed electronic toys and other items being set off by unseen hands. The sound of loud breathing and wheezing has also been reported in the basement.
It should be noted that the centre is located by Wolfe Tone Park. Until the mid-nineteenth century, the park was a graveyard attached to St Mary’s Church – which itself is now a popular bar, restaurant, and nightclub. The graveyard was cleared in the 1940s to make way for a playground and the park was created in the 1960s. Visitors will still see the old tombstones now set against the walls that surround it. With stories of overcrowding and graves being disturbed, it should not be a surprise that a few of the other buildings surrounding the square are also said to be haunted by restless spirits.
A notorious figure interred at the square was John Toler, 1st Earl of Norbury – also known as “the hanging judge”. Considered to be one of the most hated people in Ireland at the time, he seemingly took grim pleasure from condemning people to death, and folklore tells that he was cursed by the dying widow of one of the men he sentenced to hang. Following his death in 1831, his ghost was said to haunt the area in the form of a phantom black dog, doomed for eternity to prowl the streets, dragging a heavy chain.
Another local phantom is a tall, dark figure who passes through a wall and walks out across the square, but the bottom part of his legs are underground.
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