Spooked Ireland Review - Episode Five - Wicklow Gaol (Jail)
Saturday 18th, November 2023
InternationalIreland Report / Story
The fifth episode in a ten episode series, Spooked Ireland visit's Wicklow Gaol (Jail) in County Wicklow, with Spooked Ireland having taken over our Friday nights in the run up to one of the spookiest nights of the calendar year, what has Spooked Ireland been telling us about the other side of Ireland that most of us are used to hearing whispers of in stories.

We're going to approach the Spooked Ireland series from a purely fact based and reasonable assumption based on common knowledge and societal intelligence. Due to this approach it is hard to either prove or disprove any of the personal experiences that are presented in the Spooked Ireland series.

The fifth episode, aired on Friday 27th of October 2023, the last Friday before the spookiest night of the year and is based at Wicklow Gaol (Jail) in County Wicklow.

The Spooked Ireland team consists of presenter Vogue Williams, spiritual medium Chris Fleming, technology guru Ryan O'Niell and consultant parapsychologist Dr. Evelyn Hollow.

Locally known as ‘the gates of hell’, Wicklow Gaol was built in 1702 due to the existing gaol in the abbey grounds being in very bad condition.

The Spooked Ireland team led by Vogue Williams states their aim as,
Vogue Williams invites American medium Chris Fleming and his team to investigate a spike in paranormal activity across Ireland. With exclusive access, they uncover the mysteries, myths and murders behind some of Ireland's most haunted locations.

Life in Wicklow Gaol was not nice at all, described by some as harsh and horrendous, one can only imagine being locked in an overcrowded cell with some of the most vile characters in society at the time.

It’s stated on the Wicklow Heritage website (linked at bottom of article) that,
Most of the prisoners, except for the condemned men in the basement, were held in a large cell space which housed women, children, rapists, lunatics, highwaymen, footpads, thieves, robbers, burglars, untried murderers, rustlers, bad debtors, smugglers and villains of every hue and type. Those prisoners who had finished a sentence had to pay the gaoler a gratuity or ‘garnish’ to exit the gaol.

In a voice over Chris states that the jail is open to the public now but seems to infer that because of being open to the public that there has been a recent increase in paranormal activity reported by staff.

Chris breaks the news to Ryan and Evelyn that Vogue won't be attending the investigation of Wicklow Gaol (Jail) due to Vogue unfortunately having Covid. Additionally Chris goes on to tell Ryan and Evelyn that both staff and public visitors have seen and experienced paranormal phenomena at the gaol.

Chris, in another voice over goes on to set the scene of what life in a cell would have been like, not nice at all and he further adds that the dead were left to rot in a cell with the living for a period of time before being removed.

The episode starts off with Evelyn meeting with Wicklow Gaol supervisor, Colleen Taylor. Colleen goes on to give some history of the Gaol stating that there would have been no heating or glass in the windows of cells, locking up children for stealing food to survive etc.

Colleen recalls an event in her first week working in the gaol, she reports that she heard a woman sobbing, Colleen goes on to say she could feel it right in her heart and that it was a heart wrenching feeling.

Further pushed by Evelyn on other experiences that Colleen had in the gaol, Colleen starts to recall other experiences where she reports seeing shadow figures around the gaol. Colleen goes on to say that ‘she's a very realistic person’ but that it’s very hard to explain away what is going on in the jail when it’s so in your face.

Colleen then goes on to describe what she says was ‘one of her worst experiences’ to Evelyn. After covid the gaol opened and a caretaker told Colleen that he thought that a light that was placed with three manikin men in cell 14, had gone out. Upon the caretaker going down to cell 14 he found in fact that the light had not gone out but had been turned around and was now facing the window of the cell.

Colleen goes on to say that they fixed the way the light was facing to be in the correct location to only find that two weeks later the same light in cell 14 had been turned again facing the window of the cell.

And the final experience that Colleen goes on to describe to Evelyn was one day when she approached the closed door of cell 14, Colleen proceeded to open the hatch on the door that was used by a prison guard to view into a cell, Colleen bent down a bit to see into the opened hatch only see something rush towards the door with what Colleen describes as a smell of ammonia or an ‘unwashed’ smell, Colleen states that the smell was so strong that her eyes started to water.

Colleen goes on to state that odours and smells are reported throughout the gaol, when pushed by Evelyn as to why Colleen thinks these smells are occurring more so around cell 14, Colleen states that when cell 14 was opened that they could have upset somebody or something.

Next the episode jumps to Chris and Ryan in the north-west of the gaol where Chris has been told that this is where the most intense phenomena is experienced.

As soon as Chris enters a doorway he states that he feels two spirits in the area or room. Chris starts to use an SLS Kinect Camera device and asks whatever spirits are in the room to show themselves over by some barrels in front of himself, followed by Chris asking any spirit to stand on top of a barrel or in between some barrels.

One thing to note here is the appearance on the barrel of a stick figure/shape on the SLS is not in the same location or time as the initial ask from Chris, the shot with Chris and Ryan and the SLS and an onscreen show of the SLS clearly shows three barrels if not more and some other square shapes that look like containers on the SLS screen, with three ‘Anomaly Detected…’ messages on the SLS screen.

But just before Chris says ‘there you are’ the SLS camera close up shows a different location in the room or what we assume is the same room, there is only one full barrel in view and a partial barrel to the left of the SLS screen and then some containers also on the SLS screen.

Due to the shift in either location or angle of the SLS it’s clear that there is editing at play here (which occurs in all television shows) but it does unfortunately lead to almost leading the viewer into believing the calling out to appear on top of a barrel to have occurred then and when asked of Chris. There are no timestamps so it’s impossible to say if the gaps in time are large or small from starting calling out to appearing on a barrel when a stick figure is seen on the SLS camera.

As soon as the stick figure is seen on the SLS Chris states that ‘he’s waving, look at that’ just before asking the spirit to ‘raise your hand again, wave at us’ even though the stick figure never stopped waving, a bit of a wasted ask in our opinion of any spirit present.

Then suddenly the head of the stick figure on the SLS disappears to much shock from Chris, with Chris stating, ‘they cut off your head’, further stating ‘so you were hung or they decapitated you’. Chris then follows up that he believes that this is how the spirit died.

Chris and Ryan then move upstairs with the SLS camera to what was the previously the chapel, Ryan explains that he is placing a mel metre with a rem built in on top of one of the barrels, with Ryan correctly explaining that he is setting the metre down so he doesn’t falsely set it off while holding the metre as well as to not affect the thermometer built into the metre with body heat from his hand if he had held it.

Ryan starts to call out, while Chris on a voice over states that an SLS ‘measures the depth of change in the magnetic field caused by a spirit’, unfortunately this isn’t the case and unless the SLS camera is different to what is being used by Chris and Ryan and it doesn’t use a repurposed Kinect device then, what Chris just stated is wildly inaccurate.

As Chris watches on with the SLS camera and Ryan stands about a foot or two away looking over at the mel metre calling out the changes and the temperature increases seen on the mel metre, one aspect that troubles us is that, Ryan is very close to the mel metre and looking over it directly, with Chris not that much further away either, it’s plausible but not definitive in anyway but with the two with a couple of feet of the metre, body heat could affect the cold air around them in turn affecting the mel metre’s thermometer, as well as Ryan standing closely over the mel metre, air that is heated up to internal body temperature being exhaled out in the direction of the mel metre, could cause inaccurate readings to say the least.

Further to being in a cold environment and breathing warm air in the direction of the mel metre, cold environments can increase your breathing rate causing you to exhale more warmed air at a faster rate then compared to being in a warmer room.

When you are exposed to cold air, especially if it's very cold or dry, the airways in your respiratory system may constrict. This is known as bronchoconstriction, and it can result in a sensation of breathlessness and an increased effort to breathe.

We see the headless stick figure popping in again on the SLS camera in the air beside Ryan before the stick figure jumps to being on the barrel that the mel metre is on. Chris states that they need to follow up as to what ways or methods prisoners died in the gaol.

Ryan proceeds to place an audio recorder down on the barrel beside the mel metre and starts to ask any spirits present, stating this is the spirits changed to talk to them. Ryan then goes on to state that ‘it turned it off’ in reference to something turning the audio recorder off. Unfortunately it’s impossible to verify or discredit as we can’t clearly see if the audio recorder was on prior to the claim that it was turned off.

Ryan is taken aback a bit as he states he’s a bit blown away that a spirit could have touched the recorder and turned it off.

As Chris and Ryan proceed to move down the stairs into the hold of the ship Chris states he hears a noise which is claimed to sound like chains, with a voice off camera stating it came from down stairs, Chris and Ryan continue down the stairs.

The episode jumps back to Evelyn, Chris and Ryan meeting up to discuss what they have found so far.

Next the episode jumps to Sarah Duffy talking to Evelyn about her experiences in the gaol. Sarah goes on to state she has seen a shadow in the waiting room, across from the ticket office, Sarah goes on to say she was overcome with a terrible feeling of sadness as well. Sarah goes on to basically state that she feels watched and followed while in the gaol, Sarah goes on to say maybe due to the spirits being of christian fate in life and not getting last rites that they can’t move on possibly.

Sarah goes on to describe another experience where she felt what was like somebody pushing down on her shoulders.

Evelyn looks at the corridor where Sarah stated she had one of her experiences, unfortunately Evelyn uses a K2 metre, going on to say that the K2 is one of the most basic pieces of equipment in the paranormal, she doesn’t go much further than that and states what the K2’s intended use is though.

On a close up of the K2 metre we can see that the green lights start from right moving to left, and on closer inspection we can see that the writing on the K2 is back to front. This indicates that there is clearly some editing in the video, we are just pointing out that edits do happen, for legitimate reasons and that viewers need to keep in mind that what they’re seeing on screen might not always be a rue reflection of how the original recording was captured.

As Evelyn talks about spirits and last rites, the K2 seems to be triggered once or twice, followed by a voice over with Chris stating that he believes the contact was prisoners looking for their last rites.

Chris goes and meets up with paranormal investigator Nigel who believes he has made contact with a previous guard from Wicklow Gaol.

Nigel goes on to tell Chris that one night after a tour he was outside and saw an apparition that he said looked like a guard, the apparition is said to just have stood there looking at Nigel. Nigel goes on to further state that they have seen shadow figures at the gate.

Nigel goes on to answer a question from Chris about when was the most recent activity captured with Nigel saying, ‘two weeks ago’ in the form of an EVP. With the EVP recorded reported to having been from an aggressive spirit.

Nigel was in the dungeon with two other colleagues, as they were laughing they heard boots above their heads on a roof/floor that is stated to be solid concrete. Nigel goes on to state that the boots were 'stomping' and making their way to the top of the stairs that Chris and Nigel had just come down. Nigel goes on to state that there was nothing upstairs and no one else was in the gaol at the time of the boots being heard.

Nigel brings Chris further into the dungeon and starts to explain that as he was just leaving a cell one time he states that he heard what he described as a short aggressive growl. With Chris jumping in to suggest that the growl was a male spirit trying to scare Nigel, with Nigel confirming what Chris just said.

Upon Chris asking Nigel if there are any other areas they should investigate, Nigel suggests the harbour where Nigel states is where some of the prisoners were buried that either died or were hung at the gaol, due to no space at the gaol the bodies were disposed of at sea by being thrown overboard.

The episode now jumps back to Evelyn who is said to have uncovered evidence of a cruel prison guard that worked at the gaol at some stage. Evelyn goes on to tell of stories that suggest there was a very tall prison guard at the gaol, the guards preferred form of torture on prisoners was to create a noose, put around a prisoners neck, lift the prisoner up by the noose and walk with them, essentially strangling the prisoner as the guard walked.

Next we're back with Chris and Ryan who have rowed out in a small boat into the harbour to see if they can capture anything, Chris states that they are using a K2 metre to monitor the EMF and an app, which Chris suggests helps spirits to communicate. With regard to the K2, we have talked about it many times before and our stance of it is very clear, there are other articles here you can read on the K2 (linked at bottom of the article), but secondly to suggest that an app helps spirits to communicate is a bit of a reach as there is no supporting evidence to date to confirm or deny this statement.

Chris and Ryan start an EVP session with Ryan calling out and there is a spirit on queue to have a chat, there is a good bit of talk about the gates of hell and not wanting to go back. Chris states that he sees someone from the shoulders up in the water watching them.

As Chris asks if the spirits are still here as this area became their grave, he then asks the spirit to light up the K2 metre. During this whole EVP session we do see the K2 light up at various times but specifically twice before the break of the episode and just after it, in two instances, Chris states that the K2 'just lit up', both times the K2 was on camera and clearly didn't light up. Possibly due to the way the show was edited but it leads us to believe the audio heard doesn't correlate with the video seen on screen at that particular moment.

Chris and Ryan continue on with the EVP session in the harbour asking questions and getting what they interpret are replies.

Next we see the episode move back to Chris, Ryan and Evelyn meet up to catch up with each other to decide where to focus on for their investigation. An interesting point that Ryan makes is that a swear word should not come through on an ICT device, we think this is an interesting statement and warrants further investigation.

We next see Chris return to the courtyard where in a voice over Chris states the smoking guard was seen just two weeks ago. We believe this to be slightly inaccurate from what we've seen earlier in the episode, Nigel talks about an experience he had seeing a smoking guard in the courtyard at some stage, but two weeks ago Nigel stated that he captured an EVP. Possible we aren't told the whole story and final editing cut out the last bit of context.

Evelyn and Ryan return to where the DR60 reportedly was turned off earlier, as Ryan tells Evelyn about what happened a rem pod goes off. At this point the rem pod goes off again, so they place some 'cat balls' beside the rem pod which are toys that amuse cats due to the balls lighting up when moved about by a cat. The idea behind the cat balls is that if something is there it can move the balls and light it up, a good idea for an experiment.

One problem with the cat balls, there is absolutely no information on the sensitivity of the balls and I think it's safe to assume that all the balls are not calibrated the same so the sensitivity would be different for each but again there is no information on the sensitivity of any cat ball toy that we're aware of.

As Ryan and Evelyn move back from the barrel the K2 is stated to have lit up and the rem pod goes off, just as Ryan is explaining this we see a cat ball light up, the cat ball we think can be ruled out due to the old creaky wooden floor boards and the cameraperson clearly moving about as well as Ryan and Evelyn walking back and forth there is a very good chance the cat ball was set off by small vibrations in the floor boards being stepped on that run under the barrel, the K2 and rem pod without further details or information we can't further verify or dismiss the claims of a surge in the area that Ryan states.

Ryan goes on to state that the area they are in is extremely cold, an uncomfortable coldness. From having spent time in Wicklow Gaol at different times throughout the year as well as at day and night we can confirm it's just the location that is bitterly cold, very doubtful that the bitter cold that Ryan talks about is anything paranormal.

The episode jumps back to Chris in the courtyard to try and make contact with the spirit of a guard that is reported to have been spotted in the courtyard previously. We see Chris get out the SLS Kinect camera again (side note but we noticed that the SLS software is running on a windows based tablet, for anyone interested). Chris goes on to start using the SLS camera, he interestingly states that when the colour changes from blue to red that it's close to something 'being there', we'ed be interested to follow this up as a point of investigation on the SLS as we've always wondered what the different colours mean or if they have any official meaning.

While Chris is asking for the guard to show itself at the top of the stairs we eventually see a stick figure appear where Chris asks, Chris then takes out a mobile phone to use the GhostTube app, as some words come through on the GhostTube app, Chris appears to become emotional on camera.

We next see Ryan go to cell 14, upon arriving in the cell, Ryan asks if anyone has been in there, going on to state he smells perfume. One of the female members of the crew chimes in appearing to smell herself on camera to see if the perfume smell is from her, as she walks into the cell she appears to be surprised by the strength of the perfume smell.

In relation to any paranormal investigation, it's good practice for anyone attending to not use anything that smells prior to an investigation as smells are commonly reported in some paranormal experiences and you don't want to create potential false events that are later claimed to be actual spirit involvement.

While in cell 14 Ryan turns on the franks box he has to see if he can capture any potential communication with any spirits in the cell or surrounding area. Ryan goes on to ask if these are footsteps that the spirit is trying to make Ryan hear, and for a minute or so there are many footsteps sounds, now it's not clear if Ryan is interpreting the sound to be footsteps or if he believes the sounds are actual footsteps. The noise heard that is assumed to be footsteps by Ryan is a common enough sound heard from radios when there is interference or a radio channel isn't tuned in accurately enough, food for thought, go get an analog radio and play around with slightly out of tune radio stations.

As Ryan continues on he asks if the spirit can open the cell door, just then a rem pod off camera goes off. Ryan also states that he hears a noise at the door, eventually working up to Ryan asking the spirit to knock on the door, and following these asks, Ryan claims to hear chains outside the door and a chain like sound can be heard on the shows audio also, which, as Ryan states sounds like the chain noise heard earlier by Chris and Ryan in another area of the gaol.

Chris and Evelyn join back up with Ryan and Ryan goes on to explain to Chris and Evelyn what he just experienced in the cell.

All three of the team move down to the dungeon to try and make contact with the prison guard they believe they have been in contact with throughout the investigation, Evelyn states they can all turn off their head torches as the area in the dungeon has been set up with red light. Evelyn goes on to explain why a red light is used, further stating that it's believed that it's easier to see potential visual paranormal phenomena such as apparitions and movement in red light.

There are also trigger objects set up, Evelyn states, one of the objects being, reportedly original keys found in the dungeon area at some stage, which Chris believes could help bring the guard forward to them.

Chris, while sitting down with the keys in his hand, claims to be shocked by the feeling of something very angry in the dungeon, with Chris stating that he's not OK after Ryan asks. Chris can be seen on camera appearing to be struggling, before he states he's just trying to hold it back. Chris further goes on to state to the other team/crew members to be careful as he states he really wants to lunge at them right now.

Chris goes on to state after the fact that he feels a tall presence towering over him that he feels wants to possess him, this is just after Evelyn states that there is an anomaly to one side of Chris as a stick figure is seen on the SLS camera.

Just after this we see another shot of the SLS camera and interestingly enough the stick figure is caught in over Chris’s body, this is the first time in the series that we have seen the SLS camera capture or pick up on a living human, some might say but that's the ghost trying to possess Chris, let's agree to disagree and move on.

As Chris is talking about what the prison guard did when he worked at the gaol, the camera goes to Ryan who points out something asking if it's moving, Evelyn chimes in stating she didn’t move it.

We now see what Ryan was talking about, a device that was used to shackle a prisoner to the wall for whatever reason, if the guards even needed a reason.

The camera jumps back to Chris with Evelyn saying that the SLS picked up the stick figure behind Chris, next Chris starts to shake the keys in his hand to see if it causes or provokes a reaction.

Ryan jumps in to say that the noise of the keys clanging sounds similar to the chains Ryan and Chris had heard earlier in the investigation.

Chris starts to talk to the spirits asking if they want last rites, Chris starts to give last rites while noises come over the franks box, a very squeaky noise is heard and Chris states it is the prison guard realising what he has done, Chris states that the guard sees all other souls at peace and the guard is tormented by what he has done.

Ryan states he has never heard that noise and then ‘it’s done’ is heard over the franks box, with Chris on a voice over stating that they have gotten confirmation that any spirits that could, have crossed over.

This pretty much wraps the episode.

We don't have a lot of thoughts about this episode, we see a lot of similar investigation methods, similar responses as seen on many an investigation. There is nothing that stands out as spectacular, with is rarely the case on any paranormal investigation.

We will have a final overview review of the series after our episode ten review which will touch again on things we've already covered, like the K2, the SLS etc.

Another great location showcased to the world and another reason for anyone that hasn't been to Ireland to visit.

We look forward to getting into review number six for the next episode which is based at the Ailwee Caves, The Burren, County Clare.
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