Sitting proudly at the edge of Lough Sheelin sits Haunted Ross Castle, which today provides B&B to anyone who wants to stay in a castle steeped in history…and haunting. CHRIS RUSH tells us why the Castle is so popular for visitors seeking the spooky.
The village of Ross in County Meath dates back to the early Iron Age and boosts numerous dolmen stones, ring forts and Norman castle remains in the nearby area. Throughout the ages the region played stage to the battle between the Anglo-Saxons to the east and the Celtic Irish to the north and west. The Pale, a region stretching from the west of Dublin to the shores of Lough Sheelin was in English control and outside this boundary lay the lands taken up by the O Irish Chieftain Clans and the border of the Pale was governed by the Nugents.
In 1536 Richard Nugent, also known as the Black Baron had the castle built. He was a very ill-tempered man and one such story associated with his nickname was when a local woman had baked some bread. She left it on the window sill to cool, however a dog spotted the opportunity and made off with the meal. Eyeing the loaf missing the woman roared “Thief! Thief!” from the window, causing the dog to drop its prize and run away.
At the same time a beggar was passing through the village and decided have a lay down under a tree for some rest. The Black Baron and his men were out on a hunt the same day and upon hearing the story about a bread thief he flew into a wild rage. Coming across the beggar he immediately questioned him and didn’t accept that he knew nothing about the bread, Richard Nugent ordered his men to build a gallows and the beggar was hanged there on the spot. The missing bread was later found and the townsfolk place a cross where the gallows where erected and the cross remains in position to this very day.
Black Baron’s ghost daughter lingers in Haunted Ross Castle
Ross Castle is said to be haunted by the spirit of The Black Baron’s daughter Sabrina. She use to spend her time on the shores of the lake and occasionally got to do it alone without the company of the governess.
On one such occasion she met an Irish lad on the bridge across the Inny, by the name of Orwin who was the son of an O’ Reilly chieftain. They promised to meet again and their many meetings quickly turned into a secret and very much forbidden love.
As time passed they knew they could never be openly together, however their love for each other grew ever stronger. They decided to run away together in search of a life where they could be together. They met one night at the lake and climbed into a boat to row across to the side.
However, a storm caught them off guard and overturned the boat. Orwin died and Sabrina was rescued, however she did not wake for three days following the accident. Upon realising Orwin’s fate she fell into a morbid abyss and locked herself in the tower where she didn’t eat or drink until she died.
It is said that this was a form of pay back on the Black Baron for his evil deeds over the course of his life. Many have claimed to have seen Sabrina’s tormented soul wandering within the castle walls looking for her lover. As for Richard himself, he is also said to make an appearance around the Haunted Ross Castle from time to time, although the two are never seen together.
So if you do decide to take a trip to Haunted Ross Castle keep an eye out for poor Sabrina, however, make sure you pay for the bread.