Belfast Telegraph

Tourism plan for Fermanagh 'haunted house'

Peter McKinley wants £250,000 to restore Cooneen Ghost House
Peter McKinley wants £250,000 to restore Cooneen Ghost House
Cooneen Ghost House near Fivemiletown

By Gillian Halliday

A reputed ghost house in Co Fermanagh said to be home to a poltergeist is to get a new lease of life as a tourist attraction.

Peter McKinley (49) is on a mission to restore the early 20th century college known as Cooneen Ghost House, near Fivemiletown.

The story of its supernatural notoriety began in 1913 when the Murphy family - widow Bridget and her six children - were forced to flee to America to escape the supposed poltergeist.

Reports from that time record the family witnessing plates being thrown across the room by an apparently unseen force, as well as beds lifting off the floor by themselves, loud noises in the attic and banging and rapping on walls.

Now Mr McKinley is hoping to raise £250,000 through various funding to restore the property - which has lain derelict for many years - to its former glory as part of a tourist project, which was first reported by the Impartial Reporter.

It was a story run by the same newspaper that revealed that the Forest Service, which owns the land the cottage is situated on, was looking for proposals to transform the building and this gave Mr McKinley his idea.

"The cottage is ubiquitous in Fermanagh. I used to spend every Christmas in Fivemiletown and abandoned buildings in the countryside have always intrigued me," he said.

But with the local folklore attached, it ensured it was an irresistible prospect for Peter, who recently relocated to Fivemiletown from Bangor and is working on a business plan to put forward to the Forest Service.

He believes the project will enhance tourism in east Fermanagh. "The project is to restore the house to how it would have been in Bridget Murphy's time in 1913, when all the poltergeist activity was occurring," he said.

"As well as that there will be ancillary buildings; a caretaker's cottage, seven custom-built camping pods in a traditional Irish one-room cottage style, along with a toilet/shower block and a modest utility shed."

The restored house will be open to visitors during the day where they can enjoy a menu of traditional Irish food in a lean-to conservatory.

At night, however, when the building is closed up, high definition CCTV cameras will be turned on to try to capture paranormal activity.

The camera feeds will be live-streamed online, enabling ghost hunters across the world to tune in and alert Peter if anything supernatural happens.

He added: "I've never experienced any paranormal activity myself. I'm sceptical but I'm an open-minded sceptic. I'm open to the idea that I might be wrong.

"This will be a museum to Irish country life, a museum to the Cooneen ghost... a thing of beauty in east Fermanagh."

More information can be found on the Friends of Cooneen Ghost House Facebook page.

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