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County Limerick
Paranormal Investigation 80
King Johns Castle

The Vikings built the first pre-eminent stronghold on Inis Sibhtonn (Kings Island) in 922 where the castle stands today. The Viking sea-king, Thormodr Helgason used this as a base to launch long ships up the River Shannon into Ireland; mainly targeting monasteries. The Anglo-Normans arrived in the area in 1172.  Domhnall Mór Ó Briain  (Donall the Great), King of Thomond burnt the city to the ground in 1174 in an attempt to stop the invaders. O’ Briain died in 1194. The Anglo-Normans finally captured the area in 1195 under John, Lord of Ireland, who would later become King John (1166-1216). A castle was ordered to be built by the new king on the land in 1200. Construction was completed in around 1210. Limerick flourished as a trading spot and port with the castle monitoring any cargo passing through the estuary. As Limerick prospered King John set up a mint in the North-West corner of the castle. The city became divided. Kings Island was known as, “English Town” while the settlement in the south bank of the river was known as, “Irish Town”. The Siege of Limerick, the first of five took place in 1642. About six hundred English Protestants escaping the Irish Rebellion of 1641 occupied the castle, but were besieged by Irish Confederate forces under there Munster general Garret Barry. With 1,500 men, yet with little artillery Barry ordered his comrades to dig mines underneath the castle walls; planning the collapse of the foundations. He also positioned snipers in the surrounding houses. Finally he cut off the castles food and water supply. Suffering from disease, and many wounded, the English Protestants surrendered. In a period of four weeks between two and three hundred people had died within its walls. Excavations between 1990 and 1998 revealed the Undercroft beneath the original great hall or storehouse. It had been filled with rubble around 1790-1800. Timber-lined tunnels were found, linked to the mining of May and June of 1642. Over 1,000 objects were recovered and a burial pit containing several skeletal remains was discovered behind the Gatehouse. King Johns Castle is regarded as one of the best conserved Norman castles of Europe; the walls, towers and fortifications still intact, and it boasts interactive exhibitions with computer generated animations.

County Cork
Paranormal Investigation 81
Cork City Gaol

Cork City Gaol is a Georgian gothic style creation built by architect Sir Thomas Deane and designed by William Robertson of Kilkenny. he architecture resembles a castle than a prison. Situated high up on a hill on Convent Avenue, Sundays Well, ideally chosen to contain “Gaol fever” also known as Typhus and replace the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of the old Gaol at the North Gate Bridge in the city. Construction began in 1818 of the H-plan Gaol, and by 1824 it took in its first prisoners. An Owen Ryan was convicted of criminal assault on a woman named Eliza Phair was the first person to be executed by the entrance gate to the Gaol. The public spectacle (several thousands) took place on Saturday 26th April 1828 and took nearly fifteen minutes to complete. The ‘Execution drop’ didn’t go to plan due to inexperience of the hangman with Ryan convulsing for a lengthy period of time up until his death. By 1868 executions were moved to inside the prison yard because of the frightful sight seen by local residents at the front of the Gaol. A forty foot long rig set up in the prison yard. Known as the Treadwheel, it was a form of punishment used for unlawful inmates. Five prisoners would operate the wheel at a time, working in usually twenty minute shifts. The Great Famine (1845-1849) saw many people commit crimes mainly so they could be fed and clothed in the Gaol. The prison took in both male and female prisoners who perpetrated illegal offences within the city boundary up until 1878, when women were only imprisoned at the Gaol. The Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) saw many female republicans interned at Cork City Gaol. Countess Constance Markievicz (1867-1927) was arrested and charged of making a seditious speech, “advising girls not to walk out with the police and a few other remarks of that sort.” She served four months in Cork City Gaol spending her time writing letters describing how generous the people of Cork were to her and that the Gaol was a comfortable place to stay in. The Irish Civil War (1922-1923) caused the Gaol to take in male and female Republican (anti-treaty) prisoners. Conditions worsened inside Gaol; and shortly afterwards prisoners were either released or transferred to other prisons. From 1927 up to the 1950s the Gaol was used as a radio broadcasting site. In 1993 the Gaol was opened as a visitor attraction.