feath (feath) wrote,

the lady of the castle: the story of EIBHLEEN O'BRINN

"THE LADY OF THE CASTLE ; CTR THE STORY OF EIBHLEEN O'BRINN." Of all the facts connected with the history of Castleknock, there is none that has attracted more interest at least, amongst a certain class than the story of Eibhleen O'Brinn. Dr. Burton, in his History of the Royal Hospital, Kil- mainham, has developed it into a tale of considerable length, and an anonymous writer in the Nation has commemorated the event in not ungraceful verse. The facts are as follows :

In the early part of the 16th century, Hugh Tyrrell, the last of the name, ruled in Castleknock. During his absence, his brother Roger, by his violence and licentiousness, made the old castle the terror of the neighbourhood, and a "stronghold of iniquity." One summer's evening, Roger carried off Eibhleen, the fair daughter of O'Brinn, or O'Byrne, a Wicklow chieftain, who dwelt on a hill to the west of the neighbouring town of Chapelizod, and confined her in the turret of the castle. At dead of night, the maiden heard steps ascending the stone staircase that led to her apartment, and fearing the worst, opened a vein in her neck, by means of her breast-pin, and bled to death. Next morning the fact was divulged, and great indignation was expressed against Tyrrell. Turlogh O'Brinn had taken refuge in the pale from the horrors of war, and hoped to bring up his family in peace, under the protection of the viceroy. The affliction which now befel this peaceful chieftain, excited universal sympathy. At this time, the site of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, was occupied by the Knights of St. John, and one of them, who, as procurator of the house, had become acquainted with the family of O'Brinn, resolved that so public a scandal should not pass unpunished. He consequently assembled his retainers, and marched towards Castleknock. Tyrrell, finding he was to be attacked, declared that he would not take refuge behind his ramparts, but would meet his enemy in the open field. A bloody battle ensued, in which Tyrrell was slain. His tragical end was considered a just punish- ment for his many crimes ; but the death of the maiden was long regretted by the people, and often in the winter's even- ings, when the rustics gathered round the blazing hearth, many a tear was shed over the sorrows of O'Brinn, and the fate of his daughter Eibhleen.

It was long a popular belief, that, at the hour of midnight, a female figure, robed in white, might be seen moving slowly round the castle. This, they said, was Eibhleen, and they called her "The Lady of the Castle."

" When distant chimes sound midnight hour, The spirit pure is seen ; And moving round the lonely tower, Looks bright as moonlight beam. And as the moonbeams tint the walls, And light the turret's crest, " 'Twas hence", she says, " my spirit fled, 'Tis here my bones find rest. And here I wander, year by year, For such my lot has been, But soon at end my penance drear, I'll rest in joy unseen.'"

Her act of suicide, though wholly unjustifiable, was believed to have been palliated by ignorance, and in making the rounds of the castle, she was supposed to be completing her purgatory. The Lady of the Castle has not been seen since the Congregation of St. Vincent got possession of Castleknock; the priests, they say, must have "laid the spirit."

My line enters the Tyrell line in the 1400s, these are later Tyrell's - descendants of uncles.
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