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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Scarlett Valentine

Ghost of a Story


{Note: Today’s post is a little longer because there’s lots of information and photos. No recipes or patterns, but hopefully something to add to your ‘must see’ list if you decide to visit Ireland.}

Wow! This week is just whizzing by. I’m glad you’re here beside me. I’ll need the company today because I’m going to talk about castles, castle hunting . . . and ghosts!

Specifically, I’m going to talk about Irish castles because I live in Ireland and have been to a lot of them. I’m lazy by nature, but if you show me a castle on a map then tell me there’s no car access, I’ll walk to it . . . and probably get there before you! I especially love the abandoned ruins. I like the ones turned into tourist attractions and overpriced hotels, but the ruins are like stepping back in time. There are no modern conveniences like lighting, plumbing and heating. Heck, most don’t even have a roof, windows or doors! But armed with a flashlight and a camera, I’ll poke around for hours.

Ireland is not just noted for castles, but also for her haunted castles—such as D’Aubin’s Castle in Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland. It was built in the 13th century by a Norman knight called Reginald D’Aubin. This small keep practically beside Carrickfergus Castle, which was actually a military barracks. A tunnel was constructed in subsequent years, which allowed people to go between the keep and the barracks in inclement weather. The keep remained in the D’Aubin family for centuries and eventually the old Norman name was Anglicized as Dobbin.

By the 17th century, the keep was owned by Hugh Dobbin and his wife Elizabeth, who was also known as Maud. Hugh was the commander at the barracks and would often be away on campaign. Loneliness got the better of Elizabeth and she fell in love with a knight from the barracks known as Buttoncap. Elizabeth used the tunnel while her husband was away to see her lover who could not leave his post. One day Hugh returned early from campaign hoping to surprise his wife. He was the one surprised! Discovering her infidelity, he killed both Elizabeth and Buttoncap!

Today, Elizabeth’s ghost haunts the hotel in her search for her lover. She only shows herself to men, often waking them at night by stroking their cheeks lovingly. Buttoncap haunts the barracks, sometimes being seen on the battlements searching across the road to the keep for Elizabeth. Modern street-works discovered the previously lost tunnel during pipe-laying, but it has now been recorded on Ordnance Survey maps.

Dobbins castle was renovated and turned into a small hotel in 1946. The original medieval kitchen can still be seen today in the lobby of the hotel, and in the back where the restaurant is now was once the walled garden. Architectural features are retained in the walls. Here’s the URL for the hotel if you ever make it to Ireland and want to stay in a haunted castle— http://www.dobbinsinnhotel.co.uk/location.html

Okay, Dobbins is not a ruin, but you have to admit, it’s pretty cool.

How about Charles Fort near Kinsale in South Cork? Charles Fort was built in the 1670s on designs created by King Charles II. A similar fort was constructed years earlier on the opposite side of the harbor entrance and called James’ Fort, named after King James I. These forts were built to protect Kinsale Harbour from French and Spanish fleets—Kinsale having suffered tremendously in 1601 when region was assaulted by the Spanish during the Siege of Kinsale.

What’s remarkable about Charles Fort is its star shape, the walls of which measure six meters in thickness—approximately twenty feet!

As a military barracks, the fort has some interesting history, but nothing more interesting than the tale of the White Lady.

Wilful {a popular name in the 17th century} Warrender was the daughter of the governor. Motherless, she was raised by her over-protective father, and when he was stationed at Charles Fort, he brought Wilful with him. At 17, Wilful fell in love with an officer named Sir Trevor Ashurt {tell me that’s not a name straight out of a Regency novel!}. Her father approved of her choice of husband and threw them a lavish wedding and reception in the fort, no expense spared.

At twilight, before turning in for the evening, the newlyweds took a stroll along the ramparts looking out to sea and the sunset over the ocean. True to her name, Wilful saw some flowers growing in the grass outside the fort at the foundations and wanted them. A nearby sentry offered to get them for her, but the groom would need to stand in for him and guard his post. The men exchanged jackets and hats and the sentry left to fetch the flowers. So that Wilful didn’t have to suffer the chilly evening air, Sir Trevor sent her back to their quarters to wait for him. The sentry took his time and Sir Trevor fell asleep at his post.

Some time later, the commander, making his last rounds before turning in, spotted the sleeping sentry. When it appeared the sentry ignored the commander's summons, the commander promptly drew his pistol and shot the sentry dead.

It’s unclear who told Wilful of her husband’s death, but it’s said she ran from her quarters in her white night dress to her husband’s side and was so distraught that her father had killed him, she flung herself over the battlements. Stricken with uncontrollable grief, the commander took his own life later that night.

The commander and Sir Trevor seem to have peace in their deaths, but Wilful has been seen many times at the fort, still in her white night dress. They say she was Wilful in life and remains willful in death as, while the fort still operated as a barracks, she has been blamed for many accidents—a barracks doctor was pushed down a flight of stairs, ranking officers have been harried, and on more than one occasion, children of officer’s wives who lived within the barrack’s walls have had mishaps . . . all claiming they saw a lady in a white dress either before or just after their accidents. One tale says she tried to take the life of a small boy while he slept, perhaps to have the child she was never able to, as when she died she was still a virgin.

Wilful is now simply known as the White Lady, and her legend lives on in Kinsale today, She is still occasionally spotted standing at the ramparts where she and her husband once stood watching the sunset on their wedding night.

White Lady Of Kinsale from LB Frames on Vimeo.



There are several similar tales of love gone wrong and the spirits of lovers left behind, searching each other out for all eternity. But how about something a little darker?

Leap Castle is today Ireland’s most haunted castle. Its name in Irish is Leim ui Bhanain, which translates to Leap of the O’Bannon’s. The O’Bannon’s were the secondary chieftains under the O’Carroll clan. As the legend goes, two brothers contested the chieftainship of the O’Bannon clan. To settle the argument, they had to display a feat of strength and bravery; they both agreed jumping off the rocky promontory where they wanted to build their castle was a good idea! The survivor had the right to be clan chief and build his castle. Thus began a bloody and tumultuous history at Leap Castle, which, by the way, is pronounced Lep.

Another interesting piece of history says the site had been used by Druids for initiation ceremonies centuries before the castle was built. Perhaps this is where the O’Bannon brothers got their idea!

Around 1900, the Darby’s occupied Leap Castle. Mildred Darby was a practitioner of the arts, shall we say, holding séances and reciting incantations. Around that time, two things happened. The first was the discovery of an oubliette—a dungeon or ‘place of forgetting.’ At the bottom of the oubliette were the skeletal remains of several people. So many in fact, that it took three cartloads to haul away the bones—about 150 bodies!

Around this same time, a spirit known as The Elemental made his presence known. Some think it was the discovery of the bodies, others say it was Mildred’s meddling in things she knew nothing about. Whatever it was, for decades this spirit has been seen regularly {in the shape of a decomposing corpse} walking the halls, right up the castle’s destruction in 1922 during the Irish War for Independence. The castle remained ruins until 1974 when it was bought and restored, and the Elemental became active again. Ghost Hunters, Jason and Grant, came over recently with their crew and had experiences of their own. Admittedly skeptics, they were suitably freaked out. That says something, doesn’t it?

Well, there’s a taste of haunted Irish castles. Every castle has a ghost and a tale to tell. If only there was enough time to explore them all firsthand!

If you want to read about other castles in Ireland, I’ve published some travel articles that include Irish castles. You can find them online at www.all-ireland.com. Just click on attractions.

I hope you enjoyed this peak into some of Ireland’s most haunted castles. On a similar theme, tomorrow I’ll be talking about another of my passions—archaeology! But this one has a twist, one I’m sure the lover in you all will appreciate!

~ Scarlett
“What’s a little bondage between friends?”
www.Scarlett-Valentine.com
Available now – Awakening, book one of The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series

3 comments:

SCARLETT VALENTINE said...

Boo!

Did I scare you? :-)

Does anyone have a ghost story of their own to share? Or how about a castle escapade? Tell me all about it and enter for a chance to win the $15 Amazon gift card.

Maureen said...

I love ghost stories and have never encountered one but have heard some strange noises in our house. When our daughter was a teenager and heard some noises we told her that maybe it was a ghost. This actually worried her quite a bit but I assured her that if it was a ghost it hadn't bothered us in the many years we'd lived here so it couldn't really mean us any harm.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

SCARLETT VALENTINE said...

Hi Maureen,
When I was really young, maybe 8, a loaf of bread flew off the top of teh fridge at me. That freaked me out. I swore that house was haunted. I used to hear . . . things . . . under my bed at night. My dad said they were probably rats, which was even worse than the prospect of a ghost LOL