Ross Castle, County Meath.
Ross Castle, County Meath is located overlooking Lough Sheelin. It was built in the early 16th century by Richard Nugent, the 12th Baron Delvin. He had a sinister reputation and was said to be ill tempered and cruel, possibly giving rise to his nickname, the Black Baron. One story that illustrates his evil nature concerns the nearby village of Ross. It all started when a local woman having baked a loaf of bread placed it upon the window sill of her cottage to cool. A passing dog saw this as an opportunity to avail himself of a free meal and promptly grabbed the loaf and ran off with it. The woman, seeing what had happened yelled out of the open window “Stop thief”, the dog dropped the loaf and headed for safety.
A beggar was passing through the village as this was going on, it was a warm day and as he felt a little tired he decided to rest under the shade of a tree. The Baron and his entourage were out hunting along the shores of the lake, when he heard the story about the bread thief, he became angry as he felt any crime reflected upon his position as a Lord of the realm. Unfortunately for the beggar, the Baron rode into the village to question the woman as to the theft when he saw the beggar sleeping under the tree. The Baron demanded to know what he had done with the loaf and the beggar, knowing he had done nothing wrong, denied any knowledge of the crime. The Baron flew into a rage and accused him of being a thief and a liar, the beggar begged him to believe him but the Baron refused to listen. As the local Lord he had the right to pass judgement as he saw fit and he immediately ordered the locals to provide a strong rope. He hanged the poor beggar from the branch of the tree that shortly before had provided him with protection from the sun. Shortly afterwards the locals found the missing loaf. They placed a cross at the place where the beggar was hanged and hundreds of years later the black deeds of that day are still remembered.
The Black Baron went on to have a daughter who they named Sabina. Although a sickly child she grew to be a beautiful young woman. It is said that she loved walking along the shores of Lough Sheelin and that these walks brought her into contact with many of the local villagers. Although she was the daughter of the cruel and evil Black Baron the locals knew her to be kind and she was well liked by all who knew her. One fine day, as she was walking towards the bridge that crosses the River Inny she met a handsome young man and they began to exchange pleasantries. His name was Orwin and he was the son of an O’Reilly chieftain, there was an immediate attraction and before parting company they agreed to meet again. Their meetings had to be kept secret for she was the daughter of an English Lord and he was the son of an Irish chieftain and in those days any relationship between them would not have been looked upon favourably. It wasn’t long before love blossomed.
As time passed they realised that they could never be together, they wanted to marry but knew their families would oppose such a union as the two sides were constantly at war with each other. Orwin and Sabina longed to be together and the only way this could become a reality was for them to run away together. They knew that if they stayed there could be no future for them, one night they met in secrecy. They had arranged a boat down by the lakeside and planned to row across the lake and into freedom; they climbed aboard and began their ill fated journey. As they crossed the Lough a sudden storm began, these storms were well known in the area but this one caught them by surprise, a strong wind caused a swell that engulfed their boat and capsized it. Sabina was rescued but lay in a coma for three days, Orwin was not so lucky, his body was eventually found, washed up on the shore. Sabina, upon being told of her lover’s fate fell into a deep depression, she locked herself in the castle tower and refused to eat or drink. Eventually she fell into a deep sleep from which she never woke.
Locals believe that her ghost haunts the castle walls; it is as if she walks the battlements looking out over Lough Sheelin searching for her lost love, hoping in vain to be reunited with him. Some people suggest that it is her revenge upon her father and his cruelty, he is cursed to wander through eternity by the victims of his cruelty, his evil deeds, and for the grief he suffers for the loss of his only daughter.