Banshee of Dunluce Castle

The Banshee of Dunluce Castle – A Ghost Story of Lost Love

There are many tales of ghosts that roam the dark brooding fortress of Dunluce Castle. It stands on a rocky crag on the northeast coast of the island of Ireland in County Antrim. Parts of the castle, which was the headquarters of the Clan MacDonnell, date back to the fourteenth century. First built by the Irish noble Richard Óg de Burgh in the thirteenth century, the earliest documented records from 1513 show that at that time it belonged to the MacQuillan family before being taken by the MacDonnell’s. However, the outcrop on which it stands has a history of human involvement that goes back many centuries to ancient times. The site has been seen as significant both spiritually and strategically and has often been fought over.

Many people have met their deaths on this rock that stands high above the sea with sheer drops on all sides. Now the ruined castle on its summit can only be reached by a narrow bridge from the mainland. Within its cold grey stone walls there have been reports of ghostly sightings and apparitions for hundreds of years. One such story is that of Maeve Roe, thought to be the only daughter of Lord MacQuillan. Defying his wishes to become betrothed to Richard Oge, MacQuillan had her held in the north eastern turret of the castle. Maeve had given her heart to another, Reginald O’Cahan and every day and night she looked out of her prison in the hope that he would come for her.

It was a dark and stormy night when Reginald O’Cahan did eventually come to the castle to rescue his love. With the wind whistling through the battlements and beating against the thick stone walls the couple secretly fled the fortress. Into the cold night air they descended to a large cave that opened in the rocks below Dunluce. Their spirits high the two lovers set out in a small boat to cross the turbulent seas towards the seaside settlement of Portrush (Irish-Port Rois). Fighting against the white topped waves the small boat was tossed mercilessly by the cruel sea. Pushed in all directions, this way and then that, the little vessel eventually succumbed and was thrown against the rocks. Maeve Roe and Reginald O’Cahan clung together as they sank down into the cold salty depths.

It is said that the body of Maeve was never recovered from her watery grave. Although her earthly remains have gone forever the story of the love of Maeve Roe can never be forgotten. For her spirit haunts the dark wind swept ruins of Dunluce Castle. On dark stormy nights visitors to the castle come back with strange stories of disturbing heart rending wails and screams coming from the Northeast Tower also known as MacQuillan’s Tower. Those that know the history of the castle will be able to tell them exactly the source of these frighteningly sad cries. Lamenting her lost life and love it is the ‘Banshee of Dunluce Castle’; Maeve’s sad and troubled soul forever looking out across the sea from her prison tower, searching for a rescue that will never come.