Sunday, 15 June 2014

Irish Teenage Demon Fighter and Ultimate Haunted Ireland: Cashing In On the Paranormal?

Irish Teenage Demon Fighter....

...Sounds like it really crappy idea for a Buffy the vampire slayer rip off doesn't it? Well I have to inform you that the Irish Teenage Demon Fighter is an  individual who actually exists. His real name is Rhys Byrne.  He is actually Irish. And I'm pretty sure he is nineteen, so technically a teenager (though he'll need a swift rebrand next year). Does he actually fight demons? That's the question. Another pertinent question would be, is Rhys actually helping people or is he exploiting vulnerable people for the sake of self promotion?

He has a card, must be professional. Right?
 Here is how Rhys describes himself and his mission on his website.
"Irish Teenage Demon Fighter is Ireland's youngest Demonologist recognized by the international Paranormal community."

Unfortunately it isn't exactly clear what recognition
from the international paranormal community entails, And why this actually matters. Recognition
isn't exactly endorsement is it? Also a community isn't bound by universal standards as a single organisation may be.

Its likely that there are as many individuals within the "international paranormal community" who think that the idea of demons and demonology are a dangerous and ignorant throw back to the dark ages as there are those who would be prepared to "recognise" Rhys in any fashion.

Apparently Rhys has some special gift which enables him to battle demons, his story of how he acquired these abilities is almost identical to that of most mediums and psychics:
"At an early age I realized that I was different to most kids.And could see and speak to dead people, and see them in the format that they died. This was scary as a child but something that I learned to work with."
Some would suggest that this occurrence of special powers during childhood reflects a need in a child to feel special or different from their peers. In an article from the Cork News Rhys continues, attributing the enhancement of his powers that allows him to fight demons to an undefined period in a coma!
 "When I came out of a coma at 15 it came in stronger than usual. I found the normal spiritual stuff of mediumship wasn't enough and I needed to do more, so I said I'd take on demonic. It kicked off from there. That's what I am good at." 
That's an awful casual mention of a coma there! It almost suggests that Rhys is making this up as he goes along, did the reporter not consider that the reason Rhys was in a coma was worth mentioning?

Another thing that Rhys fails to provide in the article is any evidence, and, perhaps very  tellingly, not even any anecdotes about occurrences during his battles with demons. He justifies this by stating that his client's confidentiality prevents him from sharing this information.
"I don't disclose information about who contacts me but cases I'm working on at the moment are mostly demonic possession. In some cases they are life threatening..." 
This amounts to absolutely nothing concrete to work with, we can't be sure that Rhys has even had any clients. I admire his convictions, but surely there are other ways of protecting his client's identities whilst still showing some evidence that he has actually had clients.

Rhys is similarly vague about the methods he uses to combat the "demonic". We are told in his Cork News article that he is a Buddhist  who doesn't use the Bible and a crucifix in his exorcisms. So what are his methods. All we are told is:
"...The teenager favours a "one-on-one" approach: "I get aggressive with it, and do what I have to do." he said..."
Erm... OK. Very macho but that doesn't actually tell us what Rhys' procedure for exorcism is. And this vagueness from Rhys is common across the board. In no interview I've read, at no point does Rhys divulge any further information about the above topics.  

A strangely standoffish interview with RTL2FM only served to cast more doubt on Rhys' tale of his youth. He claims to have been studying Buddhism for five years, and to have spent time studying with monks in India. As he is only nineteen, you can clearly see the problem with this story. When exactly did he squeeze all that meditation and training in?

Came out of a coma at fifteen, presumably left school at sixteen.... he's only nineteen now...

When asked this Rhys stumbles and stutters, seemingly knowing he has to be quite careful to adjust his story in order to not be caught out. Also this story about the gifts he received upon awakening from his coma are different. In this later interview he states he awoke with a greater understanding of Buddhism.

Could this be why Rhys is reluctant to reveal too much about his exploits, he knows that he can't think on his feet quickly enough not to be caught out?

One thing Rhys has no problem revealing is that he has an agent that all and any media consultation should go through. Represented by Mr Fintan Cullen of The Entertainment Factory, Rhys seems to be listed as an actor not a "speciality act" oddly enough. 

He also lists as his skills:


Hand to Hand Combat-Weapons specialist -
Military tactics,Manoeuvres,

Swimming,Diving,Go Karting,Sky Diving,Off Road Driving, Tactical Driving,

Travelling & living in various countries, Dogs, Reptiles,All Animals both domestic & wild,

Demonologist,Buddhism,Working with kids,disabled and able bodied,Soccer,Survival Skills, (sic)"
Wow! One has to wonder when Rhys had time to master all these skills. being only nineteen, and having spent a year in India studying with monks, and working as a demonologist involved with "life threatening cases". How does a nineteen year old fit all that in with military and combat training....and a little coma! Unless its all fabricated?

Sorry for the cynicism, but Rhys seems to me to be desperate for "fame" and is willing to take any avenue to achieve it.  He isn't alone. 

The problem is, that the route Rhys is using to achieve fame is exploiting potentially harmful and destructive superstitions. It may be feeding the delusions of some very damaged and ill people. Rhys may be a delusional and damaged person himself, but something tells me his desire for fame maybe his main problem. 


Slick Graphics!
It seems that Rhys isn't Fintan Cullen's only foray into the paranormal. Fintan himself is about to star in a TV show called "Ultimate Haunted Ireland"produced by SWV productions. From the images I came across it looks like yet another "wander around in the dark, jumping at nothing" paranormal TV show in the vein of Most Haunted and Ghost Hunters. 

Unfortunately, can't tell you when UHI will air, as it doesn't seem to have been picked up by any TV stations as of yet. A website for SWV productions displays nothing but a similar image to that above and a link for potential buyers, and may only exist for Copyright purposes.

There is a little more information on the Spooky News site and some images from the show on the Irish Paranormal News and news worldwide Facebook page: 
"Calls went out around Ireland for our top Paranormal Investigators and Mediums to come forward for an exciting new show called Ultimate Haunted Ireland.  The call was answered and the pilot has been filmed! ANN O’REGAN caught up with Writer and Producer Sandra Hickey of SWV Studios to find out a bit more…"
Unfortunately, I couldn't read further without sharing to Facebook, which quite frankly, I'm not going to do! When they say "calls went out around Ireland..." I can't help but wonder if actually means "calls went out from Fintan's Roladex.."

We are told exactly who these "top paranormal investigators and mediums" are on the aforementioned Facebook page: 

"Ultimate Haunted Ireland the new TV Show coming soon. Featuring Fintan Cullen, Shay Carry and Dorothy Shiels and many more Spiritual mediums and Paranormal investigators."
We get some lovely photos too!

Ooh look its Fintan (right) investigating ghosts an' stuff!

Who's that with Fintan there? Its Shay Carry, you will never guess this but Shay is also listed on Fintan's Entertainment Factory site as an actor! What a massive coincidence! 

Here's Shay. He doesn't claim any paranormal abilities as
Skills though. 

Hmm... I don't know about you but I am starting to get the impression that these projects are nothing more than a mercenary attempt to make money from the paranormal field. Fintan wouldn't be the first if this is the case and he certainly won't be the last.  The problem is that it ruthlessly exploits those with paranormal beliefs, and ridicules the work of groups trying to conduct ACTUAL research.

I've heard many a paranormal researcher complain that the problem with paranormal teams at the moment is every other one is attempting to get themselves on TV. That shallow pursuit of fame seems to be at work here. 

I wonder how long it will be until Rhys younger brother, also listed as an actor on the Entertainment factory's site is roped into all this as well?   

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