Stone Court Centre

Stone Court Centre
Roscommon, Ireland.
Rumour

This location has either been included based on the experience of a site user or where a reputable source has referenced an alleged haunting either at the location or in the immediate vicinity.

The Stone Court Centre opened in 1998 offering a mix of retail and residential units in a visually striking development in the heart of Roscommon town. The interiors are fairly modern and polished, but one only has to look at the frontage to appreciate that there is more to this building than meets the eye. Stone Court incorporates the structure of an eighteenth century gaol. Those incarcerated here would often be moved on to larger prisons or to overseas colonies, but executions also took place here, and hundreds of those were at the hands of a notorious figure known as Lady Betty.

Lady Betty was born in 1750. It is known that Betty had a vicious and cruel temper, but given the poverty and misfortune she and her family endured, maybe her life experience embittered and eventually broke her, leading to her assuming the role of a sadistic executioner.

When her husband died, Betty was left destitute and with three children to look after. They set off towards Roscommon Town in the hope that things might improve for them there, but enroute two of the children died leaving just Betty and her son. They sought shelter and Betty did whatever she could to feed herself and her son – that including begging and robbing. But her worsening temperament drew a wedge between her and her son. One day he decided that he would leave for America in the hope of bettering himself, and getting to a point where he could return one day and maybe things would be different then.

Years passed and there was no sign of her son returning. Betty continued to muddle though, taking in weary travelers in exchange for tiny amounts of money. But then, out of the blue, a traveler called in seeking a bed for the night, but there was something different about this one – he had money. Perhaps without giving it any real thought, Betty decided that she needed that money more than he did. She watched over him until he fell asleep, and then stabbed him to death.

You know what is coming next. When Betty went through the man’s papers, she discovered to her horror, that he was her estranged son. Betty was arrested, tried and sentenced to hang.

When the day of execution arrived, Betty took her place alongside the others that had been condemned, and that is when her “luck” changed. Some of those due to be hanged were Irish rebels and nobody present wanted to hang them. It is said that she whispered to the presiding sheriff that she would hang them all if she was freed. The sheriff agreed, and she executed 25 men than day.

Although universally feared and despised, she was essentially a free woman and was officially pardoned in 1802. She lived in a room on the third floor of the old gaol and never had to worry about food or shelter again. Execution became her career – and she took great pleasure from it. The noose would be tightened around the neck of the condemned before they would climb out of the window of her cell on the third floor, and onto the platform. Betty would gleefully pull a lever sending them to wherever their spirit was destined to go. But it didn’t end there. It is said that she would draw a sketch of each prisoner she hanged on the wall of her cell and that there were hundreds of drawings at the time of her death in 1807.

The old gaol closed in 1817. Since then it served as a lunatic asylum, a refuge for smallpox patients and as a market house before it was redeveloped into the complex we see today.

Some claim that the ghost of Lady Betty remained at the old gaol, but I can find no specific accounts of experiences before or after redevelopment. Perhaps someone reading this can shed some light? Click “Add Your Experience” above!

Although information on the alleged haunting of the old gaol is sketchy, it’s still a pretty interesting story.


Venue Name
Address
The Square, Roscommon, Ireland

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