Chill touch of the ghostly past

January 3, 1997

An eerie mystery is unfolding in the bowels of Queen's University, Belfast. Academics are baffled by things that not only go bump in the night, but during daytime as well.

Staff have reported some rather other-worldly experiences in the basement of one of the most prestigious buildings on the university's Belfast campus.

The ghostly goings-on centre on a dark underground tunnel connecting the Ashby and David Keir wings. One story has it that an employee felt a hand on his shoulder, but turned to find no one behind him.

But the few staff prepared to talk about the creepy phenomena will do so only on an anonymous basis.

The two blocks are close to the site of a former monastic settlement believed to date back to the third or fourth century ad.

Legend has it there was also a pre-Christian religious site. One of the city's oldest established graveyards, Friars Bush, is nearby as well. And in the best traditions of Stephen King, it has a plot for those who died in the cholera plague of the mid-1880s.

"Is that potential for ghosts, or what?" asked university engineering department staff man Frank Bullick.

Officially the university is maintaining a strongly sceptical stance. But one source said: "I know two people who claimed they have seen things but they refuse to speak about it. Some won't go down there on their own at all. They refer to an intense, unnatural coldness about the place."

One university employee added: "There is one story of three men going through the tunnel when it was not lit. Unknown to the first man, the other stopped behind him, refusing to go on. The first man felt some one holding his hand in the gloom but didn't look behind him until the other end when he realised his mates were not with him."

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