Black Dog Prison And The Beast Of Cornmarket

The area now known as Cornmarket in Dublin, was once called Newhall Market, the home of Black Dog Prison, one of the most infamous in all of Dublin. A legend that is still told this day on Dublin ghost walks was also born out of this area, a grisly one guaranteed to keep you up at night. The prison was actually located within the walls of Browne’s Castle, and took its name from a nearby tavern. The place was used to house dangerous criminals from time to time, but its chief purpose seemed to have been as a debtor’s prison during the early 18th century.

The length of time a prison would stay at Black Dog was determined more by his creditors than by any governing body. Want to get rid of a rival for a long time? Pay the guards to keep them as a guest for as long as your money was good. The place rented out the beds within it for profit, and if you could afford one, you got one. If not, you got an unlighted dungeon room barely big enough to stand in, for the duration of your stay. Your air came from the nearby sewer, so you can imagine what it would have been like to be stuck in the belly of the prison for any length of time.

Eventually, the corrupt governors and their friends that ran prisons like this one for profit were undone when the political powers that be changed for the better. After a lengthy investigation, most of the prisons of this kind were shut down, and prisoners released. Black Dog was the last one, and only after all of its staff were tried and found guilty of corruption was any attempt made to shut it down for good. By then, they had lost one of its more gruesome inmates, a being known only as Dolocher, whose death and return became one of the more famous legends told on Dublin Ghost Walks today.

The Beast of Cornmarket is born

Dolocher was under the sentence of death for rape and murder, and was supposed to have been executed during the final days of Black Dog Prison’s infamous career. Before they could carry out the sentence, however, he was found hanged in his cell, somehow committing suicide before he could be properly killed for his crimes. The next night following his death, a sentry in the prison was found lying speechless at his post, unconscious with his weapon at his side. At the hospital it was determined that the young man had apparently suffered a stroke, possibly caused by fright. Eventually, it was learned that he had seen a gigantic black pig, with red eyes and huge tusks come charging at him out of the area where Dolocher’s cell had been.

For several nights after the initial attack, the guards claimed to have seen the pig running about the prison, and soon none of them wanted the post near the infamous cell. Finally, one guard who did not believe the rumors took over the post, much to the other guards relief. When he did not report for muster the next morning, a search party was sent out to look for him. He was found at his post, sort of. His uniform was there, and all of his gear, laid out as if it was being worn, his body, however, had been eaten completely, judging from the amount of blood inside the undisturbed items.

Soon after reports of pigs with glowing eyes spread throughout Cornmarket, and several citizens reported being attacked. It was true that an infestation of pigs was happening at the same time throughout the streets of Dublin, and an organized slaughter of them all began. No black pigs were ever captured, or killed, so it was thought that Dolocher had finally escaped Black Dog Prison for good.