Peter Dunne says inspiration just comes to him sometimes.
“In my head I just kind of get these ideas – saying, ‘God, I’d love to do this, it’s a shame something like this isn’t on’ … so then I just do it myself,” said Dunne.
His latest? A spooked-up audio tour that sends Dubliners and visitors around the streets of the south inner city, guided by an occult investigator full of ghost stories and tales of devilish trickery.
There are well-timed sound effects and there is witty narration, and – at night – there is an eerie feeling in a familiar place.
The Eerie experience is also a puzzle, with clues to solve along the way. Your tour guide directs you, shares urban legends and local history – and sprinkles in some social commentary and humour.
He is also responsible for MORB underground cinema events, which showcase some extreme horror, often in a spooky venue like a disused warehouse.
The Eerie tour is less hard core. Dunne said he basically noticed a gap in the market, as he does sometimes when he imagines something he would like to go to, and then finds out that it isn’t available.
“I love listening to people telling me ghost stories so it’s a novel way of telling people ghost stories and a bit about the city as well,” he says. He had help with the sound effects and music from Liam Geraghty, a radio journalist who is the sound designer and producer for the tour.
Dunne’s love of horror comes from his family, he says. “When I was young, my granddad was a big horror fan, and my parents would let me watch anything.
“Then when videos came out, we were one of the first families on our street to have a video player. So when we got a new horror, all the kids would come into our house to watch it. So I really associate horror with family and friends,” he says. “It’s a fun, communal experience and it’s good craic.”
To create the Eerie tour, he combined folklore and facts with a dollop of artistic licence. “Many of the stories about Dublin are true, but I’ve thrown in a few extra bits as well,” he says.
He loves the idea that tourists will go home with urban legends about Dublin as a result, oblivious as to which parts he has added to the stories.
It’s unclear how many people have taken the tour since it launched on 17 October. The audio is downloaded and run in conjunction with Smock Alley Theatre, which is selling the tickets; the theatre will compile the numbers at the end of the month.
Not knowing how many have attended or what they thought of it is strange for Dunne, who is used to writing plays and getting audience feedback as soon as the run starts.
“The thing is, because I usually write for theatre, I kind of haunt the theatre and listen to people talking as they are coming out. But with this, the audience don’t even have to go back to the theatre, you have no way of getting feedback, so you do get a little bit freaked out,” he says.
“It’s a weird thing – its out there for the world to experience, but I don’t know what people think of it,” he says.
But Dunne says he also likes the alone-in-a-crowd feel of the tour.
“I love the idea that you could be wandering around and you don’t realise that the other people are doing the same tour as you,” he says. “I imagine all these people sitting at the cricket pitch in Trinity, doing the same tour and not knowing it.”
Some of those who have taken the tour agree with him.
“I didn’t know what to expect, because I’m kind of a scaredy cat so I said I’d go with a friend,” said Carmen Koszac, who did the tour last Tuesday.
After a while, she realised it might have been even better alone. “I felt like asking my friend, halfway through, if we should do it separately – I think the tour is really meant to be done by yourself.”
It’s best done after dark, which, once the clocks go back next weekend, means from around 5pm.
“You feel really by-yourself at night, you know it’s silent and it’s creepy – you don’t know where the voice is telling you to go and whether you should really go down that lane,” said Koszac.
Tickets are available online for €7 from the Smock Alley Theatre website. Just add your phone, headphones and a pen.
The Eerie tour will be available throughout the winter, with the latest start time on week nights of 10:30pm, and at weekends and bank holidays of 4:30pm.
That’s because the main gates of Trinity College close at 6pm, and the tour snakes around within the grounds of the college.
If you do start the tour a little late and end up trapped in Trinity, you can always escape from the Nassau Street gate, which stays open until midnight.