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Ghosthunting in Linen Hall Library

By Amanda Poole

There were ghostly goings-on at Belfast’s historic Linen Hall Library last night as paranormal investigators set up camp in search of the afterlife.

The historic building played host to a 10-strong team from Northern Ireland-based ghost hunters Paranormal Ulster, hoping to uncover spirit world activity.

Thermal imaging and night vision cameras, motion sensors, radio scanners and electromagnetic field indicators were just some of the high-tech pieces of equipment dotted around the library, hoping to capture a ghost or spirit.

The team moved in once the doors closed last night following a series of reported sightings of ghosts in the building by members of public and the staff.

The Linen Hall Library, founded in 1788, is the oldest library in Belfast and has a colourful history which has led some to believe that prominent figures from the building’s past are now haunting the building.

Leading library figures were members of the rebellious Society of United Irishmen, including librarian Thomas Russell, who was arrested on the premises in 1796 and later executed.

Reverend William Bruce, a leading opponent of the United Irishmen, was President of the library from 1798 and his portrait now overlooks the reading tables at the Irish and Reference section of the library.

Head librarian John Killen said: “A lady stopped me in the library to say she was adamant she had seen the ghost of an elderly man with long white hair, dressed in clerical garb, looking at the books, before disappearing into a wall.”

“I showed her the portrait of Reverend William Bruce and she confirmed he was the man she had seen. I had been staying over at the library on my own when I heard creaking doors and footsteps. The doors could perhaps be explained by other things, but I couldn’t work out the footsteps. I haven’t put myself forward to stay overnight since!”

Paranormal Ulster’s head investigator Mike Hirons said: “When it comes to the paranormal, Irish people are very spiritually open and I find the buildings to be the same. We’ve captured amazing evidence at the Crown Bar, Cairndhu House and Ballygally Castle. We have been looking forward to visiting Linen Hall library since we heard all the stories. Our recording equipment is all over the building and we hope Reverend Bruce stops by.”

The aim of the ghost hunting group is to scientifically and spiritually gain evidence to prove the existence of a spirit world and while Mike doesn’t claim to be a medium, he describes himself as open to the possibcCapilities of the spirit world.

Former library worker Mary Delargy, from Londonderry had a spooky experience in the building recently.

She said: “I was in the third floor attic gathering books when I sensed a presence. I heard footsteps, then turned around to see an old-fashioned looking man with dark hair and clothes in front of me. I watched him for a while and then he walked through the wall”

“I was so taken aback, I had to Left: cap for portrait of Rev William Bruce in Linenhall Library.

Members of Paranormal Ulster in Linenhall Library (above and below) press eyedown. Some people believe me, while others just laughed. I had always been a sceptic about these sort of things, but there is no other explanation, it had to be a ghost.”

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