It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark… It’s Halloween Time

Given the month that’s in it, I thought I’d write a few spooky posts in the run up to Halloween. Today, I’m going to talk about an eerie place in the city where I live. The Old Cork City Gaol.

cork city gaol 2

Photo from Cork City Gaol’s facebook page

The imposing jail opened in 1824 and closed in 1923. Men, women and children were held imprisoned and some were later transported to Australia. In the early 20th century, political prisoners were kept here during the Irish Civil War.

Last year on Cork Culture Night, the one night of the year where almost every heritage site, tourist spot and attraction in Cork opens up to the public for free, I ventured up to The Old Gaol in Sunday’s Well. I’d been there on a few occasions during my childhood, always during the day, and roamed about the corridors and cells either with friends or at my own pace listening to the audio guide. At night, it was quite a different experience.

We got there late enough, close to ten o’ clock as far as I can remember, and weren’t even sure we’d find it still open. But it was. A group of perhaps fifty to sixty people stood huddled close together outside the closed doors. In the dark, surrounded by such an old building with barred windows and turrets, goosebumps broke out on my arms. The atmosphere was one of eager anticipation. A staff member came out, an American lady, and said she was willing to do one last tour, despite the late hour, given the festival night that was in it.

cork city gaol

Photo from Cork City Gaol facebook page

So we lined up and entered and were taken from cell to cell, peering at the creepy wax figures of men, women and children, malnourished, half starved, some of them in jail for simply stealing a loaf of bread to feed themselves, listening to the stories of hardship, the hangings, the transportation of the so called criminals to Australia, and even some tidbits about the prisoners themselves. We saw the scribbled hand writing (now protected behind glass walls), of the prisoners, announcing “James was here 1912” and so on. Most of the jail is closed off, but there is one corridor you can peer down and see the ghostly apparition of a young girl in a white dress with her back to you. This hologram terrified me when I first noticed it as a child, but even as an adult I was aware of a chill running down my spine.

I can’t say I felt any ghostly activity, but given the suffering that went on, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of the place being haunted.

gaol dayLast weekend, I hopped on board the Cork City open-top tour bus and saw my hometown from a different perspective. We passed the Gaol in broad daylight and I took a few snaps.

gaol outside view

view of Cork City from outside the Gaol.

gaol day 2If you ever get to Cork, I’d recommend a trip to The Old Cork City Gaol. You can find out more at





Is this a place you’d like to visit? Do you know of any possibly haunted places where you live?


About Emma

Buffy fan, avid reader, writer.
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24 Responses to It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark… It’s Halloween Time

  1. Shah Wharton says:

    Interesting. We visited the settlers building in Sydney to see where the prisoners ended up. Some of them suffered! Love creepy, when it has a little history to it. Makes it doubly distressing. πŸ™‚

  2. Mae Clair says:

    If I visited, it would have to be in the daylight. What an imposing, Gothic-looking structure. You described it well, Emma. A great shivery treat as Halloween draws near.

    The most notorious place for hauntings in my area is Gettysburg, an American Civil War battlefield that is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in America. I’ve visited numerous times, but always during the daylight hours and have never partaken in any of the city’s candlelight ghost tours. I agree with Shah on that combination of history and creepy. Can’t beat it!

  3. Oh, how deliciously spooky! I would love to see that!

  4. Jen Naumann says:

    Wow, love it! Jealous you’re so close to something that amazing. Totally putting this on my bucket list. πŸ˜‰

  5. Indiewritersreview says:

    Would love to visit:)

  6. Looks like a cool place, Emma! I stayed in a haunted B&B, the Shanley Hotel, in upstate New York three years ago. Was the only guest, and was awakened by an immense crash on the floor above me at 3:00 a.m. Never found out what it was.

    • Emma says:

      Yikes. Not sure I’d have the guts to be the only guest in a haunted hotel. You’re a lot braver than me. Even the homepage of the hotel is freaking me out with the ghostly image of the child.

  7. sherry fundin says:

    I would love to visit and photograph it. The architecture is awesome and the story makes it even more interesting. Now I am curious. I don’t know if there is anything haunted here, but we do have some forts. I’m going to have to do some investigating. LOL
    sherry @ fundinmental

  8. Jo-Ann Carson says:

    Ooooh. It looks so creepy. Great place for a story. Thanks for sharing.

  9. fuonlyknew says:

    It looks kind of lovely during the day. but the night pictures are another thing all together:) Such sadness must linger there.
    Living in the south, there’s lots of supposedly haunted places. I can’t think of any off hand but would love to find a group and tour some places.

    • Emma says:

      It looks impressive and welcoming during the day with that lovely blue background, but come evening, there is definitely a sense of eeriness that comes with all buildings with troubled history.
      I can imagine the wealth of haunted house stories you’d find if you did a little digging.

  10. Pingback: Writing Links…10/13/14 | TraciKenworth's Blog

  11. Oooo looks like an interesting place to visit. I’ve been to Alcrataz and the prison the filmed ‘Shawshank Redemption’ at. Both were depressingly eerie. As for haunted places near me, Wisconsin is littered with haunted places. There is even a book out on all the haunted places in the state. Heck it seems like every third episode in Supernatural takes place in Wisconsin.

    • Emma says:

      I have gotten terrible for replying to blog comments. I’d love to go to San Francisco. It’s on my bucket list. I had to look up where the Shawshank Redemption was filmed. Going to Google books on haunted Wisconsin later. You’ve got my attention.
      Why is it that most Supernatural episodes take place in small towns? I’ve always wondered why Sam and Dean don’t seem to be drawn to cases in big cities.

  12. debsmerry says:

    Hi Emma a delayed response I know but well worth waiting for, yes this is the scary month the time for Ghost stories the witches magic looking out for black cats watching the moon the elements oh so exciting. The Cork city Gaol you must be proud of coming from Cork a beautiful place, I envy you. May be I will get the chance one day I love gothic architect it looks well maintained were I live there is a similar building that was once a place for the mad also then the ill. But the main point is it was left to run down instead of making something of the building and grounds as they say it is also haunted even when going past it is a horrible feeling being in a park.
    Some say they were going to do one of those places were you stayed overnight in a group ghost hunting it never did happen.

    • Emma says:

      Hi Debs. It is exciting. I love watching spooky films and telling ghost stories, makes me feel like a kid again when magic was a possibility and the night held wonder. πŸ™‚
      We’ve got a creepy old building up on a hill above the river that was an insane asylum. It’s since been turned into apartments but you couldn’t pay me to live in them. I understand the way you say even walking past gives you a bad feeling. I do think I’d enjoy joining a ghost hunting team, but only if there were a lot of us. Safety in numbers, right?

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