Eileen Garrett was born in 1893 in County Meath in Ireland. She was to become one of the most highly respected mediums of the last century. She did not have an easy life, far from it. Her life seemed to progress from one tragedy to another. Her parents both killed themselves when she was very young, leaving her to be brought up by relatives. She was also a sickly child, felling ill with tuberculosis which plagued her for a number of years and leaving her with a lifetime of respiratory problems. It was because of her health that she left Ireland and moved to England when she was fifteen years old, again to live with relatives.
She married young and lost three of her four children in early childhood. This combined with her recurring health problems led to the marriage ending in divorce. She remarried, this time to a soldier who met his death at Ypres just weeks before the end of the war. She later married again. It was in the period after the war that she began to develop her psychic abilities. Her health continues to hold her back and once again her marriage ended in divorce.
Eileen Garrett developed her abilities with the help of Hewart McKenzie from the college of Psychic Studies, who worked with her until he passed away in 1929. It was during sittings arranged by Harry Price that Eileen really began to develop. She experienced a number of phenomena from witnessing a spirit manifestation, believed to be the image of the ‘control’ spirit guiding the medium Stella Cranshaw during the sittings. In the early 1930’s Eileen toured the USA, as part of the tour she provided sittings for the New York Psychic Institute and the John Hopkins University. This was a period of intense study into psychic phenomena and Eileen was required to make several crossings of the Atlantic. During the Second World War she based herself in New York and started publishing a monthly magazine.
A Lasting Legacy
Along with Francis P. Bolton she formed the Parapsychology Foundation in 1951, aimed at supporting research into the world of psychic phenomenon. The foundation is still going strong. Despite a long life filled with ill health, in the end it was bone cancer that took her life in the September of 1970. One of the most famous incidents in a séance held by Eileen happened in 1930. Two days prior to the séance an airship (R101) had crashed into a hillside close to Beauvais in France. Despite the purpose of the séance to be to contact the spirit of the recently departed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the medium in fact found herself in contact with the pilot of the doomed airship, a Flight Lieutenant H. Carmichael Irwin. He relayed full details of the incident including details of the technical issues which had lead to the accident. Details which the air ministry deemed were at least 70% wholly correct and the remainder of the information inconclusive, but most likely.