Taping the Tapping Ghost

If there’s something weird
in your neighbourhood
who ya gonna call? 
The Ulster Tape Recording Society!
The following appeared in the Belfast Telegraph on 13 June 1960.
The ghost in a derelict Ulster castle has been taped … on a recorder. 
For a dozen members of the Ulster Tape Recording Society who spent Saturday night in the reputedly-haunted Gilhall Castle, near Dromore, County Down, heard strange noises and saw objects mysteriously moved.
The party, who had with them about £400 worth of recording and photographic equipment, spent from 10 o’clock till dawn in the castle, accompanied by Mr. Brian Hinchley, an expert in psychic phenomena.
He supervised the drawing of chalk circles and symbols and the placing of iron pipes and other objects intended to attract the ghost.
One room was used as a central control station and microphones were installed at strategic points throughout the building and wired to a recording unit.
And as the members watched and listened in the stillness of the night inexplicable sounds were heard on the monitoring system and were immediately recorded.
The secretary of the society, Mr. William Scott, of 41 Haypark Avenue, Belfast, said to-day that the sounds were like a metallic tapping.
“But when we investigated them personally they ceased,” he said.
Three of the members also said that on two occasions they saw that objects in one room had been mysteriously moved.
The key in a door, left in a particular position, was turned, a pot handle moved some distance, an iron bar was turned at right angles to the position in which it had been left and, oddest of all, a paint pot and brushes was shifted two yards from a wall to a pipe, from which they fell as the witnesses approached.
These were among the evidence photographed, as well as writing on a window of the castle. This is said to have been scraped with a diamond ring by a girl, forbidden to marry the man of her choice, who was burned to death in the castle 200 years ago.
Mr. Scott said the negatives being developed to-day appeared to show no apparitions or anything other than the objects actually photographed.
“But we’re having them enlarged to get a closer look,” he said.
He said the members had entered onto the investigation with an open mind, but now most were tempted to believe the castle legend.
“But just in case some of the locals were playing a prank we will return on a secret date,” he said.
The society is also to investigate a mysterious humming noise heard in the Malone Road area of Belfast in the early hours of the morning.
Mr. Scott is also keen to hear of any other buildings said to be haunted.
“My telephone number is 648939 … and I will be glad to receive a call from anyone,” he said.
If you’re interested in reading more about the haunted history of Gilhall (aka Gillhall - aka Gill Hall) have a look at “The Step on the Stair” by Sheila St Clair. The Gillhall chapter includes details of a return visit to the castle by the Ulster Tape Recording Society, this time accompanied by Mrs St Clair herself. It was quite an eventful evening.
Belfast Telegraph, 13 June 1960


  1. That's fantastic..It's so beautifully written and so redolent of its era. Thankyou so much for posting this. I don't suppose you have a copy of "The step on the Stair" that you can show us by any chance? -I really want to read it now and find out what happened.

  2. Hi - I'm glad you enjoyed the post. For copyright reasons, I can't publish excerpts of "The Step on the Stair." However, it seems that Sheila St Clair was joined by a reporter from the Belfast Telegraph, who published his account soon after their vigil (Sheila's account was published in 1989). I'm going to post his account on the blog tomorrow.


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