Mediums: no, I’m not referring to the waist size that contestants on Gerry Ryan’s latest televisual foray are dreaming of, but rather those who claim a direct contact to the spirit world.
To give him his full title, London-born Tony Stockwell is a psychic medium, who is bringing his perspective on the afterlife to the Theatre Royal on Tuesday, March 4th.
“I don’t talk about crap,” he tells The Munster Express, anxious to establish his bona fides, a sentiment which became somewhat of a refrain during our 45-minute chat.
“It’s better that people sit on the fence about what I do rather than think straight away that I’m a wally. When I speak to people I am always direct – I just tell it as it is. I honestly think I don’t make things more fanciful.”
Since childhood, Tony has seen and connected with the spirits of the deceased and since the age of 16, he says he’s “really understood” what it means to be a medium.
“When I was very young, I would hear voices calling my name and, as I became more attuned to my ability, I began to see spirits. I figured that if mentioned what I’d seen to a lot of people, they would see me as being such a strange kid…
“So most of the time, I kept it to myself for fear of being isolated or rejected and found my own way to cope in the way most resilient children tend to do.”
He continued: “I decided to dedicate my whole life to train and educate people in mediumship as a way of letting more people understand what I do.
“We are all open to the spirit world and I look on what I do as, I guess, a parting of the veil between the two worlds. I’ve sat with many people who have lost a loved one and kept an open mind about what I do and in the space of just an hour, they see life differently.
“And to be able to help people find solace, to relay a message from a spirit, letting them know that everything is okay and that they’re watching over them, is a wonderful honour.”
So what format should the cynical or open-minded attendant at the Theatre Royal expect on March 4th?
“I will call out information, as it comes to me, which is as detailed and as specific as possible,” Tony added.
“Invariably, there is at least one person in the audience who will know exactly who it is that I’m connecting with from the spirit world.
“And I can’t stress enough the element of detail, what I would describe as evidential statement, which is crucial in underlining that what I do is real and genuine. I go to the spirit world during such events and try to glean as much as I can from a spirit.
“At most evenings, when I ask someone to raise their hand if the evidential statement I’m receiving is familiar to them, someone does.
“What also happens is that someone may feel unable to do that in front of hundreds of other people, but will come to me afterwards and tell me that they were a relative or a friend of a spirit I’d connected with.”
Tony admitted that he’s not surprised at the levels of cynicism that surround his field.
“One of the criticisms is how mediums can be vague and say stuff that doesn’t mean anything to anyone,” he said.
“When proper mediumship is possible, it can only be done with one person…If there’s lots of positive energy in a room, then that’s just an amazing journey for me. The ambience of the theatre can work in a positive or negative way also.
“A few weeks ago, I came off a stage and was absolutely exhausted; the audience that night was very subdued. I was later told that the place had been previously used as a morgue, which explained why I had wanted to go asleep the entire evening.”
Tony’s abilities have also drawn him into the criminal investigation sphere, and led him to Moone in County Kildare following Jo Jo Dollard’s disappearance in 1995.
Unfortunately, despite several vivid experiences during his visit (“I don’t know how much of this I should get into”) following an approach from Jo Jo’s younger sister, Tony’s intervention didn’t yield the desired result.
However, his contributions to other investigations have helped to secure convictions.
“Quite a number have gone to trial in the Old Bailey. In one case, I was able to provide the first name of the killer, the first letter of his second name, his profession and where he had hidden after the murder had been committed, down to the colour of what bin he’d hidden behind. And that information helped to put him away.”
Does being a medium ever feel too great a burden to bear?
“I try to get away for some time out so that I can pace myself and not run the risk of being overwhelmed,” he said.
“When I do have busier days I find it harder. I’ve got a one-to-one reading list which is seven years long; I’ve had to close it due to the demand.
“Mainly I’m seeing people that have lost children which is sad, just so sad. I’ve met parents who have been to hell and back and that can be particularly exhausting.”
But not for one second would Tony Stockwell change the day job.
“It sounds like I’m blowing my own trumpet here, but people have come to me and told me that these messages received through me have changed their lives…
“It doesn’t matter what religion you’ve got or even if you don’t have a religion. The spirit world is there for everyone. We are all in this together, we’re all brothers and sisters, and I hope that what I’ve said to you doesn’t make me sound like a loony.
“Mediumship is a fabulous gift. And to be able to show that grief, healing and hope are eternally intertwined and universal is a great honour for me.”
Tony Stockwell hosts an Evening of Clairvoyance and Psychic Mediumship at the Theatre Royal on Tuesday, March 4th.