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Spirited Away (to Cork)

With Cork playing host to the 13th World Ghost Convention later this month, Kevin Beirne talks to Catherine Courtney about organising an out-of-this-world event 

Throughout history, humans have always been fascinated with the idea that there is some sort of life after death. It is not an uncommon to believe that after we die, we are not necessarily gone. After our physical body dies, what happens to the non-physical aspect of what makes it who we are?

Call it a soul, a consciousness, or whatever; is it possible for this part of you to stay connected to what we know as reality after you die? Catherine Courtney, the organiser of the 13th World Ghost Convention, certainly believes so.

Courtney is not alone in believing that we’re not alone, as people from all over the world flock to Cork each year to attend the World Ghost Convention. She says that one of the main aims of the event is “to help those who have had supernatural experiences by raising public awareness and highlighting the fact that they’re not alone in having these experiences.”

The Convention itself takes place just before Halloween, a time of year in which the public’s interest in the supernatural is certainly piqued. According to Courtney, the amount of publicly reported sightings of supernatural beings are “only the tip of the iceberg, because many people who have had supernatural experiences would be afraid or ashamed or embarrassed to share them for fear of not being taken seriously.”

At the World Ghost Convention, any experiences people share will be taken “very seriously.” The venue itself, the old Cork City Gaol, is believed to be haunted due to the fact it was used as a prison from 1824 until 1923. Courtney describes it as “an ideal setting” for such an event.

There have been many reported sightings of spirits at the convention itself, which does not surprise Courtney, as the building has “its own resident ghost, which has been seen by the members of the audience and the speakers,” although Courtney admits that she has never seen it for herself.

Interestingly enough, Courtney had never seen any ghosts or spirits with her own eyes before, but is quick to add that she is keeping an open mind and that she believes it is only a matter of time before she has her first supernatural experience.

In the meantime, she will keep herself busy with organising what looks like an interesting event, with speakers from the UK and US stopping by, including Lucia Read, a psychic medium who is also the host of The Third Eye, an American TV series that sets out to observe spirits.

Other guests include Terese Collins, a Reiki master, Catherine B. Lowry, a spiritual healer and registered nurse, and Drew Cali, a psychic medium and healer. Besides the human guests, it is entirely possible that the patrons will be able to enjoy a sighting of a spirit or two.

The 13th World Ghost Convention takes place on Friday, 25th October in Cork City Gaol, Co. Cork. Tickets are €20 and available to order by phone by calling (021) 427 1659