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Patients became haggard and ghostly, often left in complete isolation for days on end. Things were so bad that dead patients would go unnoticed for days, if not weeks. In , Danvers State Lunatic Asylum was closed down, demolished and renovated into the set of apartments it is today. Despite this haunted insane asylum being torn down and reconstructed as a different property, bizarre activity, and paranormal sightings still abound.

Residents and visitors have recorded full body apparitions, flickering lights, the sound of unexplained footsteps and doors opening and closing on their own.

The Poorhouse: America's Forgotten Institution

ByBerry Mental Hospital first opened its doors to the public in , when it started off as a working farm for the mentally ill before it became a fully-fledged mental hospital in the s. Lack of funds left the hospital in a state of disrepair, with patients being forced to survive with no clothing, insufficient food and sewage-filled hallways for bedrooms.

Padded cells, solitary confinement, regular beatings, electric shock treatments, restraining devices, and lobotomies were the norm. In , state authorities closed down ByBerry Mental Hospital after a thorough investigation revealed inhumane living conditions, yet its dark past continues on to this day. A myriad of horror stories surrounds this facility.

After it closed, ByBerry Mental Hospital became inundated with vagrants, gangs, thieves, satanic cults and former visitors seeking shelter. One mentally-deranged and the brutally violent patient is said to reside in the miles of catacombs beneath the building, where he lies in wait with a large knife, eager to slit the throats of curious explorers unlucky enough to cross his path. As well as this chilling legend, the hospital has also been the spot of several paranormal sounds and sightings, including human-like growling and physical scratches appearing on visitors bodies.

Rolling Hills Asylum began life as the Genesee County Poor Farm in — a dumping ground for the outcasts of society. Here orphans and widows lived alongside the severely mentally handicapped and criminals — all of whom were known as inmates. There are more than 1, documented deaths, with hundreds more unclaimed bodies believed to be buried on site. What are the reports in this real haunted asylum? One of the strangest occurrences took place in when the Rolling Hills Case Manager, Suzie Yencer, was working on a public ghost hunt.

The group was sat in a circle in the basement and as Suzie began to speak, a glow stick — the only form of light in the room — began to sway back-and-forth, a rocking horse started to move to-and-fro and several people saw a hand suddenly appear and reach for a ball. The second-floor corridor on the east wing is commonly referred to as Shadow Hallway, due to the staggeringly high number of shadow figure sightings which walk through walls and crawl across the floor.

A seven-foot-tall patient with gigantism is also commonly spotted in his room, where he spent most of his life alone. Coming in at no. The Asylum opened at the beginning of , specializing in the treatment of mentally and criminally insane patients who were admitted by the court or their own families. The facility originally started out as a calm and pleasant place where patients could relax and get better, but before long it became an overcrowded institution which relied on the cruel practices of electroshock therapies, ice water baths, and ice pick lobotomies. The story of Margaret Schilling takes place in December and is just as chilling then as it is today.

On this winter day, Margaret — a patient at Athens Lunatic Asylum — was playing hide and seek with the nurses who got distracted and forgot about her.

In January , her body was discovered by a maintenance worker. Buried here somewhere are famine victims who succumbed to starvation and fever a century earlier, when the home was a loathed workhouse for the homeless poor. She will prompt a national reckoning that will leave the people of Ireland asking themselves: Who were we? Who are we? At the moment, though, she is only a child. She is walking home to a father tending to the cattle and a mother guarding a secret, away from the Irish town whose very name conjures the buried dead. How it was best to stay in the center of the road when walking at night, so as not to disturb the spirits resting along the wayside.

Even today, the Irish say they do death well. Local radio newscasts routinely end with a recitation of death notices. In a country where the culture of Catholicism, if not its practice, still holds sway, this alerts the community to a familiar ritual: the wake at the home, the funeral Mass, the long gathering at the pub, the memorial Mass a month later, and the anniversary Mass every year thereafter. Thus the late Tim Finnegan is revived at his wake; see how he rises. Respect for burial grounds runs deep, with crowds gathering in their local cemetery once a year to pray as a priest blesses the dead within.

This reverence for the grave may derive from centuries of land dispossession, or passed-on memories of famine corpses in the fields and byways, or simply be linked to a basic desire expressed by the planting of a headstone:. It is a gloomy June afternoon, and she is walking the grounds once hidden behind those shard-studded walls. As rain falls from the crow-flecked sky, she drapes her black jacket over her head, almost like a shawl.

At 63, she is a grandmother with a smile not easily given, and any fealty to Catholicism long since lost.

But this is for the community, not the church. She finds deeper meaning in her garden, in the birds at the feeder outside her kitchen window, in the earth here at her feet. Few photographs exist of the grim building that once loomed over this corner of Tuam pronounced Chewm , perhaps because few desired the memory. In its place stand drab rows of subsidized housing and a modest playground. A silvery swing set, a yellow slide, a jungle gym. One day, a few years back, Catherine began to inquire about the old home that had stoked her schoolgirl imagination.

The more she dug, the more a distant time and place was revealed. Now, standing on the sodden grass, she can nearly see and hear all that was. The women and their newborns often arrived after the inquisitive streetlamps of Tuam had dimmed.

They came from towns and crossroads with names like snatches of song. And now they were here at the St. One spring morning during the civil war that followed, six prisoners — republicans who disagreed with concessions in the treaty — were marched into the yard and executed against the ashen wall.

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The government repurposed the building to be among the institutions intended as ports of salvation where disgraced women might be redeemed. These state-financed homes were invariably managed by a Catholic order, in keeping with the hand-in-glove relationship between the dominant church and the fledgling state. You rose early and went down to the nursery with your infant.

Mass at 8, then porridge and tea for breakfast. You might polish the dormitory floors with beeswax or clean bedsheets stained with urine.

Death and family life in the past | SpringerLink

Born in a workhouse and left in the care of the Bon Secours, Julia became an employee who lived in the home for almost 40 years. The gates remained unlocked to accommodate deliveries, but so powerful was the sense of cultural imprisonment that you dared not leave. Save for the chance gift of a cake from the bread man, you starved for love or consolation over the loss of your innocent courting days. The Bon Secours sisters who watched your every move were doing the bidding of Irish society.

They, too, existed in a repressive patriarchy with few options for women. A vocation offered education, safety and status, all reflected in clean, freshly pressed habits. So it went. You preferred instead to suffer at the mother and baby home, bracing for that day when, after a year or so of penitent confinement, you were forced to leave — almost always without your child.

Death and family life in the past

Typical is the story of one unmarried woman who had been sent to the home from a remote Galway farm. I want my son. I want to rear him. For the children left behind, there were swings and seesaws and donated Christmas gifts from town, but no grandparents and cousins coming around to coo. They lived amid the absence of affection and the ever-present threat of infectious disease. Many survivors have only the sketchiest memories of those days, a haze of bed-wetting and rocking oneself to sleep.

One man, now in his 70s, remembers being taken for a walk with other home babies, and the excitement of seeing themselves in the side-view mirrors of parked cars. Shabby and betraying signs of neglect, they sat at the back of the classroom, apart.


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Teachers threatened to place rowdy students beside the home babies. Still, when a bully targeted a young Kevin during one recess, the child who came to his rescue was a home baby. You leave him alone , the older girl warned. One September day in , a rare and ferocious hurricane howled across Ireland, downing power lines, destroying barley fields, battering cottages.

As gales flicked away slates from the roof above, Julia helped lock the doors of the mother and baby home for good. Its conditions were poor, some of its staff untrained, and County Galway officials decided not to proceed with a planned renovation. Abandoned, the massive H-block building devolved into an echoing, eerie playscape, where games of hide-and-seek unfolded in dull halls once polished with beeswax.

Even the old chapel became a place where children became the priests and confessors. The years passed. Galway County moved forward with plans to demolish the home and build subsidized housing. And the memories of hobnailed pitter-patter faded, replaced by the faint sounds of children outracing the home baby ghosts that inhabited the property at night. Catherine still wonders what led her to the story of the mother and baby home. Chance, perhaps, or distant memories of the little girl she once teased.

Despite her bone-deep modesty, there are even times when she feels chosen. Catherine graduated from secondary school, left a Galway art college for fear of lacking the necessary talent, and found satisfaction as a receptionist.