For a ghost story to truly captivate its audience it must encapsulate certain points such as love, tragedy, and fear; the legend of the White Lady of Kinsale is a perfect example of this.
The story takes place in Charles Fort on the waters edge, at the southern side of the village of Summers Cove, on Kinsale Harbour, in County Cork, Ireland. This military base was designed in a star fortification as to prevent attack from cannon fire.
This particular Fort was quite strict when it came to family members such as wives and children living alongside the soldiers, in fact only about 6% were awarded that privilege.
This legend begins with Wilful, the daughter of the newly appointed Governor falling in love with Sir Trevor Ashurst. The young couple eventually married on Charles Fort where they also held their reception.
During the reception the bride and bridegroom opted to take a romantic stroll around the grounds. Realizing that Sir Trevor had forgotten to get her a bouquet, Wilful requested he descend the great wall and retrieve her some flowers.
More then happy to please his new bride Sir Trevor instructed Wilful to return to the reception and he would fetch her flowers. Knowing the difficulty this retrieval would entail he assigned the task to the sentry on duty.
The sentry was reasonably reluctant given the strict code of ethics each guard had to uphold, such as not abandoning ones post.
Sir Trevor assured the guard that he would take charge of the post until he returned with the flowers, the guard relented and went off.
Shortly after taking charge Sir Trevor succumbed to a long day of partying and fell asleep on post. Unfortunately it was not long after this that the Governor decided to give his distinguished guests a tour, the tour subsequently came across the sleeping Sir Trevor.
The governor having been known for his strict nature called upon who he thought to be the sentry on duty. Sir Trevor did not rouse and as a result he was shot in the head by his unknowing father in-law.
To further his point and solidify his role of fear and respect the Governor put the body on display for all to see. It was shortly after this that Wilful realized what her father had done, she became over come with grief.
No longer having anything to live for she ran to the highest point of the tower and leaped fifty feet to her death. Once her father realized what had happened he followed suit by shooting himself in the head.
While tragic it is not yet that of the paranormal, in fact it is not until the summer of 1815 that things begin to become a bit eerie.
A Major Black was walking the grounds when he saw what looked like a woman in a white dress. Initially he thought the woman was just the wife of one of the men assigned to the fort, but he became intrigued by the odd look of the woman’s dress, which compelled him to follow her.
Ultimately the Major lost the girl.
On another occasion two sergeants encountered the lady while working, via ones daughter. The daughter exclaimed while the men where working “Who is that white lady who is bending over the banisters and looking down at us?”
They where unable to see anything, but the daughter was insistent that she saw a woman smiling down at them.
In another account a staff officer residing in the Governors quarters claimed that while his children slept their nurse saw a woman glide across the room to the youngest child’s bed.
While looking upon the child the woman seemed to rest her hand on the child’s wrist, the child startled and cried out,“oh! take that cold hand off my wrist!”, it was at this point that the lady disappeared.
What was particularly odd about this account was the location, the nurse and children where not only in governors quarters but in a room that opened up to the what was known as the White Lady’s Apartment.
The white lady’s visits where not always reported as innocuous. A report was made by Surgeon L. some years later. While out snipe shooting he lost track of time and realized he was late for the mess hall. He rushed to his room to dress accordingly.
His absence was noticed by another officer who went to look for him and found him lying senseless on the floor. When Surgeon L. awoke from his stupor he reported that when he went to retrieve his key from under the mat he was forcibly dragged and flung down the stairs.
The White Lady of Kinsale
The intrigue and allure of a paranormal story lies in its possibility. Yes the legend of the White Lady of Kinsale could have simply been created by men in an effort to haze new officers or warn sentries of the danger of falling asleep on watch…but it could possibly be more.
It is that possibility that has sustained this story over the past and what seems to keeps it alive for the future.