Warring Clans, Dark and Brooding Castle Coves and the Banshees That Haunt Them: A Sneak Peek into Sophia’s World
When I immersed myself in writing the Time Traveling Bibliophile Series, one of the things I most enjoyed was envisioning a character who constantly found herself in the most curious of places. No matter where Sophia Marcil went in time, she wound up falling or bumping into a secret passage, a vintage bookshop or a dark and threatening forest and all while evading her killer. It seemed to me that Sophia gravitated to the fairytale locations she might have found in the books she shelved, places like Lichtenstein Castle, the Black Forest, and fairy hill. Also finding herself in haunted spaces such as Romania’s Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara, and the witch’s cottage where it all began. So, in honor of our bookish heroine and her dangerous explorations, I’ve decided to write a series of blogposts on the cozy places that make up Sophia’s world. Even filling you in on the truth behind the tales that inspired them, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
First we’ll start with Northern Ireland which is the prominent backdrop in BOOK THREE, The Temple of Indra’s Lies and we’ll meet the legendary banshee who roams the dark brooding fortress and the mermaid’s cove beneath.
Excerpt from BOOK THREE, The Temple of Indra’s Lies
Northern Ireland, November 1551
To the east of a small seaside village in Northern Ireland, Alexandra Cuza paced the cold damp floor of the cave below the massive Dunlace Castle. The weather was violent, and the waves smashed and tumbled against the sharpened stone of the White Rocks cliffs. Off in the distance, thin clouds sailed across a darkening sky, and the wind swept wildly as if to mirror Alexandra’s own foul and loathsome mood. This medieval castle was her home now, much like the one she’d grown up in and yet so very different. Occasionally she missed the heavily wooded mountains of southwestern Transylvania, but there was nothing like the roar of the mighty waters, as they came rushing and bellowing into the deep cavern of the mermaid’s cave.
Using her prophetic sight to her advantage, Alexandra had ingratiated herself into the McQuillan Clan over the last ten years, becoming known as Saundra—the Witch of Dunlace—mistress and advisor to Lord Uilliam McQuillan. She’d waited fifty-seven years to exact her revenge on this man.
There was but one problem: she no longer wanted to.
Dunluce Castle Facts
This famous Celtic Castle stands on a rocky crag on the northeast coast of the island of Ireland in County Antrim. 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. The site of Dunluce Castle has been seen as significant both spiritually and strategically and has often been fought over.
The castle is carved into a rocky promontory, so that the cliffs around the castle drop off straight into the ocean. The sea-grass and rocks are slippery from the salt-mist and, in some places, the rocky surface has caved in and the crashing ocean is visible far beneath the surface opening. This dangerous setting made the castle a perfect defense against invaders, but a reckless place to carry out daily life. In the early 1600s the cliff-face supporting the castle kitchen crumbled into the ocean and plummeted all the people inside to their deaths.
The Banshee of Dunluce Castle
One of the most popular tales associated with the McQuillans and Dunluce Castle is the legend of Maeve Roe, the McQuillan Banshee. There are many blogs that detail the story but here is the most common. Please note that while the names of the families are the same, this story differs slightly from Temple of Indra’s Lies, but it is truth that inspired me to imagine Sophia’s own scenario.
Maeve Roe McQuillan, the beautiful Lord’s daughter, fell in love with Reginald O’Cahan. The O’Cahans were one of the McQuillans’ bitterest rivals and the Lord of the Route did not see Reginald as a suitable match for Maeve. In attempting to dissuade Maeve from marrying Reginald, he took the rather extreme step of locking her in the north eastern tower of Dunluce. With no servants to attend her or friends to keep her company, Maeve spent the lonely days and nights pining for her lover and sweeping her room with a brush. After some days, her father grew worried at how distraught Maeve Roe had become. He took pity on her and hatched a scheme to allow her to reunite with Reginald which at the same time allowed him to save face.
On a wild and windy night, the Lord left the castle with his clansmen on a raiding mission into a rival’s territory. While he was away, he had instructed one of his servants to free Maeve Roe from her tower and lead her to the Mermaid’s Cave underneath the castle where Reginald was waiting for her. There was a boat nearby to allow them the means to escape. However, as you may have guessed, there wasn’t a happy ending. Due to the storm, the row boat crashed against the rocks and the couple were drowned. Reginald’s remains were subsequently washed ashore but Maeve Roe’s body was never found. Maeve’s ghost continues to haunt the tower to this day, sweeping the room she had been imprisoned in. Not only that, Maeve Roe also became the family banshee, mourning the impending passing of McQuillans with her sorrowful wail.
To see where I found these stories, check out either of these pages.
Curious to know more about the Time Traveling Bibliophile and her cozy adventures into the past, check out the Temple of Indra’s Lies on Amazon. OR start at the beginning.
BOOK ONE Temple of Indra’s Jewel
BOOK TWO Temple of Indra’s Curse
You can also get more visual sneak peeks on my Pinterest page at the The Magical World of the Bibliophile