Monday, November 3, 2008


So what did Polly and the para-normal investigation team do differently? For starter's we didn't have a team of camera men following us around the neo-gothic manse, nor did we have Derek Ancora or Yvette Fielding to lead us through our experiences which lasted a little more than sixteen hours in total...

What we did have was plenty of layers, namely thermal underwear, ski jumpers, neckerchief's, hats, gloves, fleeces and body warmer's. Also midnight snacks, flasks of tea, packets of quaver's and a couple of bales of peat brickettes for the enormous fireplace in the morning room. One or two of us brought our camera's and we all wore boots and carried a flash-light.

Our team consisted of five; each following different professional paths through life and loosely connected to one another through our host for the evening whom I have fondly named Martin Ghost. Our para-normal investigators Raymond and David hailed from the North of Ireland and this was one of their many visits to Charleville Castle; but like us it was their first Halloween to be spent at this most haunted of Irish Castle

Upon arrival at about 6.30pm the air in the morning room was cold enough to see ones own breath; despite a hearty fire in the grate opposite us. Despite the numerous layers even I could feel the chill, but chose to strip off my outer layers so that I would realise their benefit later on. Having completed the relevant disclosure forms and personal details on a membership application I was introduced to my companions for the evening and chatted briefly with a member of the original family who works there as a volunteer caretaker.

It was rather unfortunate that our activities couldn't get under way sooner, but due to unforeseen circumstances the lady of the castle Bonnie Vance had been whisked away to another most haunted venue in the locality and would not return until later that evening. Also a party of visitors was expected at nine for a ghost tour around the house; all of which conspired to slow our activities down dramatically; still a pitcher of mulled wine and some more coal on the great fire helped us get to know one another better in the intervening time.

Once we got going on the upper floors of the castle the results were fairly spectacular and almost instant. Never having done such a thing on a formal basis before neither I nor my companions knew quite what to expect; but our PN's were patient and explicit in their explanations. They explained some of the history of the castle and gave us a guided tour so that we might know our way when the other visitors had departed.

One of the eeriest places of all had to be the dungeons and yet when standing in the blackest depths of them not one of us experienced any of the terror that the Most Haunted team displayed so well in the featured video from my last post. Even when we stood plunged into darkness as our torches were switched off there was no evidence of any type of spirit; save that of the over-powering stench of diesel fuel emanating from the generator room!

We visited the chapel, which is long disused and quite a prominent feature of the castle; its external appearance belying the devastation caused by generations of neglect. The chapel referred to by Derek Ancora lies just beyond the dungeons; possibly on the other side of the wall he was pointing to!

Those of us who smoke took the opportunity to snatch a quick one as smoking is stictly banned within the castle itslf - we figured we were safe to do so as we admired the stars from the small courtyard and wondered about the purpose of the surrounding buildings.

After this we paid a brief visit to the stables; a place which has always fascinated me but never been investigated for fear of trespass. On Hallowe'en night we had free reign and access nearly all areas and it still felt naughty! One of our party, being quite familiar with the layout of an antique livery was able to explain the various differences in size and shape of the stalls.

The two 'cages' either side of the central gateway are reputed to have held bears during the times when bear fighting was popular in the northern parts of europe. Personally I think these 'cages' were too small to house any large animal; least of all bears, especially since there were no gates on the structures!

Once filled with nicotine we headed back to the morning room for a session of ghost stories and a little history before we set off on our main mission. By now the air in this enormous room had warmed so much that I was not alone in stripping off my layers and we toasted a few marshmallows on the great fire; to pass the time; one of our party Martin Ghost had brought all the necessary equipment including a toasting fork.

Finally at a little past midnight the hunt was on. On the upper floors of the castle all mechanical fans and dehumidifiers were switched off leaving the sound of our feet and the creaking of the ancient timbers for company. What we experienced that night was certainly out of the ordinary; it ranged from knocks on the floor, cold/freezing sensations when clearly there was no draft, strange lights and mist observed by several people individually, being touched and of course the occasional rumble of a hungry tummy.

Much later 0n we conducted a seance in the ballroom whereupon we were joined by an entity that obviously enjoyed a bit of fun; the sight of four people seated at a table which was moving around the room must have been hilarious! Before anyone jumps to conclusions there is no way that this could have been 'rigged' the only person exherting enough pressure on the table to influence it in any way was me!

I hadn't realised this until the table started to tilt strongly to the right of the room; my arms were 'locked' and once I released them the struggle stopped and the edge of the table slowly rose by 2", then 4", then 5" and then at least 6" before returning to its starting point with all four legs firmly on the floor. In our surprise all four of us momentarily allowed our hands to leave the table top and yet somehow it hung in its precarious position unsupported by human hands!

Later the table spun around so much that we had to desert our chairs and found ourselves racing around the room in high speed circles. Had this not stopped when requested it would most certainly have induced dizziness! The most activity was noted when one of the other ladies and myself were at the table in the company of Martin Ghost. The timber flooring of the ballroom must have been damaged in places, dented by the small table as it tipped itself over again and again...

One more nicotine break and then it was time for the Ouiji Board. This is something that my curiosity conquered my discomfort over; my late father had always been adamant that its use was dangerous. Not knowing one way or the other the very thought of using one had left me squirming at its initial suggestion; however I didn't take a huge amount of persuasion to join in when the time came!

Without a doubt the glass moved. Also without a doubt it was spelling out a remarkable amount of gobbledegook! I don't know what to make of this particular portal to communicating with the other side; except that I am now probably somewhat more sceptical than I was before. During those minutes I found myself transported from fearful to being scornful; although I kept this to myself at the time, I wonder if this is why the session with the Ouiji board finished so quickly and with such disappointing results.

By five o'clock in the morning all seven of us were fast asleep. The two PN's who while serious about the paranormal also proved to be good fun took their places in one of the few renovated bedrooms; while we slept on a motley collection of sofa's and duvets in the morning room. By this time the castle was actually warm; with the benefit of the previous five hours of continuous heat emanating from the massive fires...

Would I repeat the experience? You betcha! I have never experienced anything quite like it before and would be interested in persuing some of what we experienced. I'd probably not invite one or two members of the party to return with me; as I suspect that there was a small element of horseplay involved. While this was certainly minor in nature I did find it irritating and I'm certain that at least one of our companions did too.

Yes, it does help to be light hearted and to do things like this with an open mind but I believe that the party concerned would be extraordinarily talented, if only they could control their urges to play pranks.

None of this was scary; bar one incident. Martin Ghost let out a shriek as a semi-clothed skeleton fell down at his feet! With this Richard, the volunteer caretaker appeared from behind it, satisfied with his efforts - "Yes; that seems to be working okay now!"

What more can a girl say? Whooo-oooooh!

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