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Paranormal Investigation 84
The Athenaeum, situated on Castle Street in Enniscorthy, County Wexford was constructed in 1892 on a former vacant plot in the town. The new-custom built hall was designed by Joseph Kelly Freeman (born 1865) at a cost of £2,207 5s.2p. The Athenaeum was named after Athena, the Greek Goddess of arts and wisdom by the buildings committee treasurers Dr. Nicholas Furlong and Dr. Thomas J. Kelly. The initial purpose for the new town hall (brought forward in a meeting 4th February 1891) in Enniscorthy was to educate the young catholic men of the town on the subjects of arts, literature and science. For over seventy years the Athenaeum hosted touring companies from Ireland and overseas. Apart from dances and concerts operatic recitals were performed at the hall; including an appearance from world renowned tenor Count John McCormack (1884-1945) at a Feis (festival of music and dance) in 1905. Lectures were also presented to an audience on-site. Notably an address was given by Dr. Douglas Hyde (1860-1949) in the Main Hall in 1901. Hyde was the co-founder and first President of the Gaelic League. He would later become the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945. It was on the 17th June 1927 that the founding members of the Gate Theatre company in Dublin (established 1928) Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards first met each other at the Athenaeum. It was the Emmet commemoration concert and oration of 1st March 1916 that saw the most rousing gatherings in the Main Hall. Orator on that evening was Patrick Pearse (1879-1916). He spoke passionately about Robert Emmet (1778-1803). Amongst those who attended were the Volunteers of the Irish Republican Brotherhood based in Enniscorthy. Pearse gave knowledge that orders of an armed uprising would arrive soon. On the Thursday 27th April 1916 between 100 and 200 Irish Volunteers led by Robert Brennan, Seamus Doyle and Sean Etchingham took over the town of Enniscorthy. One of the buildings that was commandeered was the Athenaeum. Members of Comann na Mban (Irish Republican Women’s Parliamentary Organisation) raised the tricolour on a flagpole above the building and discharges of gunfire were fired as a salute. The insurgents also managed to fire shots at the R.I.C (Royal Irish Constabulary) from Vinegar Hill (a symbolic site of the 1798 Rising). Other buildings that were occupied in the town included Enniscorthy Castle, the Church Institute on the corner of Castle Street and Church Street; and the Courthouse on Court Street and Friary Hill. On Monday 1st May the British Army under the command of Colonel George Arthur French (1864-1950) succeeded in regaining control of the town. Enniscorthy was the only town occupied by Republicans outside of Dublin during the 1916 Rising and one of the last places to lay down arms in the revolt.
Familiar occurrences of poltergeist activity have been reported at the building, such as doors banging, people being touched and lights switching on and off. Shadow figures have been seen and clear voices (some not friendly) believed to be that of Priests, children and Volunteers of the 1916 Rising are said to be heard. The majority of paranormal and anomalous experiences occur in the Museum area of the Athenaeum.
Paranormal Investigation 85
The community space hall was constructed in 1885 by the League of the Cross, a temperance society established in Liverpool. It is situated on Market Quay (Emmet Place), Sleenen, Kinsale (town centre), County Cork. The Temperance movement was a social campaign against the consumption of alcohol. People who took part in the movement promoted Teetotalism; the promotion of total individual abstinence from alcoholic beverages whilst being teetotal. The League of Cross was set-up by a Roman Catholic voluntary association of laypeople by Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892) with an aim to improve religious, social and domestic conditions. The main aims of the League were to pledge total abstinence, and taken without limit as to time; only Catholics could be members; that all members shall live as good, practical Catholics and no one who is not a practical Catholic shall as long as he fails to practice his religion, hold any office in the League. The building has two floors presenting many artistic architectural features. The slate roof has ceramic ridge tiles with fleur-de-lis decoration and a cruciform at the front apex. The building also has red bricks/blocks and yellow brick keystones that surround round-headed windows and a door, and a circular window at the rear. The Temperance Hall sits today in an area which was in-filled and reclaimed at the end of the 18th century from originally wet and marshy land. It stood within the town walls and five main gates: Friars Gate, Cork Gate, Water Gate, World’s End Gate, and Nicolas Gate. The walls and gates were mainly destroyed during the Battle of Kinsale of 1601. In the 18th and 19th centuries boatyards use to occupy Pier Road (next to Market Quay/Emmet Place). The best known ship to have been built in the town was the HMS Kinsale at the Admiralty Dockyard at World’s End, in 1705. Fishing was another important job to have in the area. A total of 4, 612 men and boys were employed on fishing boats in 1829.
The lanes close to Market Quay/Emmet Place are reported to be haunted by a ghostly fisherman who is said to walk down to the quayside, then vanishes. The road from the fort to Desmond Castle (pass very close to the Temperance Hall) is said to see a ghost of the white lady. In Julian Hawthorne’s minor vampire story Ken’s Mystery (1883) is said to be based on an encounter with a phantom woman who travelled from the fort to Desmond Castle, where she vanished (credited Paranormal Database).
Woodchester Mansion, Nympsfield, Gloucestershire, England
Paranormal Investigation 86
(See UNIVERSAL page)
Paranormal Investigation 87
The glorious Belvedere House is a Georgian villa built in 1740 as a Palladian hunting lodge for Robert Rochfort, 1st Earl of Belvedere (1708-1774). It is located on a 160-acre lakeside (Lough Ennell) estate, close to Mullingar, County Westmeath. The architect behind the design for the house was Richard Cassels (1690-1751). The five-bay two-storey over Basement has surviving Rococo plasterwork ceilings which were created by French stuccadore (plasterer) Barthelemy Cramillion. The demesne also features a Victorian walled garden, forestry and with great pride a ‘Jealous Wall’; the largest folly in Ireland. Robert Rochfort used Belvedere as his main residence; as a get away from Gaulstown House, his family home. The reason for this was to avoid the scandal of incarcerating his second wife, Mary Molesworth at Gaulstown, after she had an alleged affair with his younger brother Arthur. Mary was locked up and isolated, with only her servants as company for thirty-one years. Roberts terrible reputation led him to be known as ‘The Wicked Earl’, because of the mistreatment of his wife, brother and family. Robert took Arthur to court for criminal conversation (a wrongful act emerging from adultery) and was awarded the large amount of £2,000 in damages. Arthur was unable to pay, so he fled the country. On his return to Ireland he was taken to Browne’s Castle (The Black Dog Prison) in Dublin and imprisoned. He would later die in captivity. Robert stripped his nine nieces and nephews (Arthurs children) of property and land. A short distance from Belvedere House, a new mansion was built for Roberts brother George. Todenham Park House (originally called Rochfort House) now lies in dilapidation, but back in the day was larger than Belvedere House. Robert was envious, therefore he erected the ‘Jealous Wall’ in 1760, to block off the view of his brother’s house. Robert died in 1774 and there are many rumours to his death. He was succeeded by his eldest son, from his second marriage, George Rochfort (1738-1814). Eventually Mary was released from confinement, and even on her death bed swore of her innocence of the circumstance that led to her durance. No children were ever born at Belvedere House. Ownership was passed on from George Rochfort to his wife, then to her grandson, Brinsley Butler, 4th Earl of Laneborough. Brinsley’s cousin, an art collector – Charles Brinsley Marlay (1831-1912) inherited the house. Upon Charles’ death, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury (1881-1963) obtained the estates. Finally, in 1963, it became in the possession of Howard-Burys friend and companion, actor Rex Beaumont. Rex sold the estate to Westmeath County Council in 1982.
A groundsman named Tom stated that there is a ‘sense of something’ in the building. After opening up the house one morning with his family they noticed loud knocking sounds coming from a window in the Kitchen, basement. Curious, they knocked on the same window three to four times to get a response. A similar amount of knocks would return. When checking from another window on the floor above they could find no one outside that may had caused the disturbance, nor any birds (pecking on the glass of the window) nearby. On the outside of the window is a moat (a deep, wide ditch), making it extremely difficult for any person to create the deed of knocking. Tour guide and paranormal investigator – Samantha Kelly explained that whistling has been heard on occasions and is believed to have come from the time period when Robert Rochfort owned the house. The smell of cigars and brandy have also been sensed, presumably originating from the era when Colonel Howard-Bury and Rex Beaumont lived at Belvedere. Furthermore, women have felt uncomfortable being at the house after dark. According to the book – Irish Ghost Stories by Padraic O’ Farrell (2014), a slim and beautiful woman wearing a bright blue cloak and a veil has been seen by the lakeshore of Lough Ennell. She appears only to lone wanderers or fishermen. She seems to be paddling bare-footed and dramatically gesturing towards the water in anger, then normally ceases to be visible. In one account, a man by the name of Jack Tuite had a close encounter with the woman. Instead of disappearing she spoke to him, “At the bottom of the lake lies my treasure”. She then vanished. The apparition is believed by some to be that of Lady Belvedere (Mary Molesworth), who may have been boating on the lake and had deliberately relinquished or accidently mislaid some valuable jewels into the waters, prior to her incarceration at Gaulstown House.