Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ireland's Antrim Coast

Dating to the 1200s, Dunluce Castle on the craggy Antrim coast is an evocative ruin straight from the best novels of Irish Gothic literature. And for good reason. Its crumbling form perches quite literally on a jagged cliff face high above the tumultuous Irish Sea. And there are the ghosts, of course. In the 1500s, Lord MacQuillan's daughter Maeve Roe was to be married off to her cousin. However, she was in love with Reginald O'Cahan, the son of a Clan leader who was in a bitter feud with her father. Since both father and daughter were equally stubborn in the matter, Lord MacQuillan locked Maeve up in a castle tower until she came to her senses. Learning of this Reginald ventured one stormy night, scaled the tower, and freed her from her prison. The young lovers raced in the night to make their escape in a  small boat. Unfortunately, Reginald proved no match for the tempestuous sea and his boat capsized, taking both himself and Maeve with it. Maeve still haunts the castle and the MacQuillan family, as the Banshee of Dunluce Castle. It is said that her spectral wails of misery are still heard from time to time. Another stormy night, a century later, Lord and Lady Antrim were hosting a lavish Christmas party when a horrible rumbling was heard from the north side of the castle. Those in attendance raced toward the sound and were horrified to discover that the entire kitchen had crumbled to the rocks below, taking 9 servants with it. One legend tells that the only person left standing in what remained of the kitchen was an old gypsy woman who had been rebuffed by Lady Katherine earlier that day. It would seem that this was her revenge. Still, others say it was just a tragic accident, but that those 9 servants can still be glimpsed from time to time when the circumstances warrant. Visitors have returned with tales of an unseen presence brushing past them in the Southeast tower. Staff have reported items moved around the shop or lights extinguished are found turned on when they return in the morning. 
So common is the tale of Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Giant's Causeway, that I will eschew any mention of it here. Suffice it to say, the Causeway is a must-see destination if you visit Northern Ireland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant%27s_Causeway
The Grey Lady that haunts the evocative tunnel of Beech trees flanking Bregagh Road between Armoy and Stranocum in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, and known romantically as The Dark Hedges (you may have seen it featured in the HBO series, Game of Thrones), is believed to be maid who from a nearby home who died under mysterious circumstances. Others say she is a lost spirit who cannot find her grave. It is told that on All Hallow's Eve, the spirits of the dead arise from their graves and join her in a procession along the lane.

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