Goligher Circle

Goligher Circle Members of an Irish spiritualist family who formed a Mediumship circle studied by William Jackson Crawford, a lecturer in mechanical engineering at Queens University, Belfast. The Goligher Circle consisted of a father and his four daughters, a son and a son-in-law. All the daughters were mediumistic, although one, Kathleen, was the most powerful. Only Kathleen would go into trance and speak for the spirits the family believed to be producing the Rappings, tableLevitationS, and other phenomena that occurred when they sat together. Their Séances were held as part of a religious observance and were ordinarily private, but in 1914 Crawford learned about them and persuaded the family to let him study the manifestations. Crawford wrote three well-known books about the Golighers: The Reality of Psychic Phenomena (1916), Experiments in Psychic Science (1919) and Psychic Structures of the Goligher Circle (1921). He accepted the Séance phenomena as paranormal and was principally interested in studying their physical characteristics. Through experimentation, he discovered evidence of what he called “psychic rods,” which appeared to emanate from Kathleen’s vagina, and by which the table Levitations and other physical effects were accomplished. These “rods” seem to have been composed of Ectoplasm and would sometimes solidify into visible forms that could be seen, felt and photographed. Crawford killed himself in 1920, inevitably raising the suspicion that he had learned that the Golighers had been engaged in trickery. Another investigator, E. E. Fournier d’Albe, who had 20 sittings with the Golighers after Crawford’s death, reported few phenomena and concluded that what he did see was fraudulently produced. W. W. Carington, who observed the Golighers in 1916 and in 1920, believed that genuine phenomena had occurred at the earlier sittings, though not at the later ones. If either Kathleen alone or the Goligher family as a whole had turned to fraud around 1920, this may have been because Kathleen’s abilities were suffering the decline that typically accompanies aging with physical me diums, both male and female. She was about A 16th-century illustration of minor devils, Demons, satyrs, and hobgoblins. 202 goblin 16 in 1914, and thus about 22 in 1920. It is interesting that by 1920 the Golighers had begun to accept do nations from observers, something they had not done earlier. After Fournier d’Albe, the Golighers ceased to give public Séances and permitted no further outside studies of their Mediumship. However, Kathleen continued to give Séances privately, some of which have been reported in print. She married S.G. Donaldson in 1926, and in 1933 he conducted a series of five sittings with her that he reported in the Psychic Science the following year. In these experiments, he employed infrared photography, which had then only just become commercially available. No physical phenomena except raps are reported, but photographs of what appears to be Ectoplasm were obtained at all five sittings (which would seem to have been held in darkness). Although no further reports of Kathleen’s mediumship are available, the sittings with infrared photography were continued. The photographs, however, unfortunately were destroyed during the bombing in World War II. Kathleen Goligher was last heard from in 1962.



  • Barham, Allan, “Dr. W. J. Crawford, His Work and His Legacy in Psychokinesis.” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR)55 (1988): 113–38.
  • Donaldson, S. G. “Five Sittings with Miss Kate Goligher.” Psychic Science 12 (1934): 89–94.
  • Inglis, Brian. Science and Parascience: A History of the Paranormal 1914–1939. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1984.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits – Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley  – September 1, 2007