Haunted History

Last year, I brought you the story of the most haunted place in Ireland, which just so happens to be one of Cowboy’s family’s ancestral homes. This year, I bring you yet another story of lore and history, one that has much speculation and suspicion, but very little fact. I invite you to draw your own conclusions to the origin of the story’s characters.

Today’s story takes us 2 1/2 hours north from last year’s story, to the original family home in Ireland, Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin.

In mid 1880, a crew was working to renovate the ballroom on the middle floor of the castle when they removed heavy wood paneling from a hallow wall. What they found there held a shock. Dressed in a sky blue silk ball gown, her hands bound, was the skeleton of a young woman, estimated to have been between 18 and 22 at the time of her death, estimated, by the decomposition of the corpse and the style of her gown, to have been 130 years before the discovery.

Rumors spread about the origins of the girl, how she got there, how she died, and why she was at Rathfarnham in the first place. One can speculate with assurance she was not a direct relative of the Loftus family, for her disappearance would have been noticed. Instead, she is a young woman who has remained nameless to this day. She is thought to have been a beautiful young woman and two men were competing for her attention. The two suitors decided they would duel for her affections.

It is unclear exactly how she got into the wall, but it is believed that, during a ball, the two young men assisted her in getting into the wall, binding her hands so she could not get out to view their competition and turn the tides one way or another. Because their actions would have been frowned upon, they told no one of their plans or that the girl was bound in the wall. After replacing the heavy wooden panel, the young men went outdoors for their duel.

The plan was that the victor would free her from her prison and he would be the winner of her favor. As you might expect, the young men were equally matched, so much so that they were both mortally wounded during the duel, neither surviving to free the girl, or to even tell anyone of her predicament.

No one knew of her existence in thee wall for 130 years, until that fateful day when her skeleton was discovered behind the wood of the paneling of that hallow wall in the middle floor ballroom.

When she was discovered, the lady of the castle at the time had her silk gown made into cushions for chairs to be used in the dining room. It is said that at several times during the year for the next century, a young lady in a sky blue silk dress has been seen in the ballroom, the ghost of the young lady searching for the winner of the duel, pining over the man who would have won her heart.

Was this story of innocent young love and desire the true origin of this young lady? Or, did her presence behind the wall indicate a darker side in the history of Rathfarnham? Is her corpse older than originally estimated in 1880, making her placement part of a game played by the Hell Fire Club that inhabited the castle during the time it was not in the hands of a descendant of the Archbishop who built the castle?

Her specter began to appear when her body was found and the gown she wore used to upholsterer a set of dining chairs, haunting the dining room, which she would have known as the ballroom of the castle. Has her soul finally found its rest? There have been no sightings of the young woman once the castle was placed in the hands of the Irish Government and declared a national landmark.

The real reason she was placed in the wall will never be known, the story of the two dueling suitors is the most popular tale of her origins. It is up to you to decide the who, how, and why or the story.

Personally, I believe the dueling suitors story, but perhaps that is my romantic soul wanting to believe the romantic notion of dueling for the favor of a lovely woman. Was she pining away for the man she hoped would win all those years? Searching for him? Waiting for him to rescue her from her prison before she could fully leave this world and cross over to the other side?

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