Halloween is a bit different in 2020. There are rules and limits to how you can celebrate, and in this particular year we perhaps don’t need anything new to scare us. So at South West College, seeing as this year could be our last in our Enniskillen Fairview Campus, we’re looking back – way back! – for some unique inspiration. Our Fairview campus is a building full of history, and what better time to look back on some of the “spookier” aspects of its past.
South West College's Enniskillen Campus includes the site of the old Enniskillen jail, a building with an infamous history. Speaking on BBC radio a few years ago, local historian Catherine Scott described the ‘grim edifice of Enniskillen Jail…established at the beginning of the nineteenth century.’ The jail took about three years to build, from 1815 to 1818. However, it’s the extension which was added in around 1850 which still remains today. We know that local hangings occurred at the jail, and although they were rare, the last public hanging was as recent as 1839. On that occasion, two local men, Thomas Kerr and Thomas Wilson were hung together at Gallows Green at the front of the jail, with a large crowd gathered. The two men had been convicted of the murder of a young local woman.
While scenes like this seem like ancient history, the most notable reminder of the buildings past as a jail is in the colleges central hall, where the outlines of what were once jail cells still remain and are still noticeable. (You can see them in the pictures above.) Also remaining, though much more hidden, is the unused dungeon below the central hall. Historians say this dungeon used to house "condemned men” who had been sentenced to hanging, and even say there was a tunnel, which still in part exists today, which they would be led down after their last meal. From the tunnel they would emerge directly beneath the scaffolding where they would be hanged.
With this creepy history, it's no surprise that there have been rumours of some spooky happenings in more recent times. South West College employee, Aidan Stewart, tell stories of a few spooky occurrences, including that of a room in the infirmary building behind the old jail. Aidan says, ‘A lecturer and a class of students were in the room one afternoon when the storeroom door began to creep open. At first students exchanged a few strange looks, then they laughed; but when the door violently slammed shut, they all got up and ran out. The lecturer refused to teach in that room again, and the building is no longer used for classes.’
It's fair to say that Halloween, like everything else in 2020, is a bit different this year. But with stories like this, the truly scary goings on might not be as far away as you think!
South West College wish a happy and enjoyable Halloween break to all our staff and students.