When we began our journey to Ireland, I chose to stay at Carraigin (as it is listed on VRBO) Castle because it was beautiful and had plenty of space for my family to spread out into. I would be lying if I wasn’t also beguiled by the idea of Tina, the woman who brings full Irish breakfasts and dinners to the castle at our request. I dug through the internet and found no records of any tragedies occurring at this castle and there were no ghost stories that I could find. This didn’t bother me much since I knew I would find other stories to occupy my time.
Yesterday, I met David. David is an Irish Fisherman who knows the waters of Lough Corrib as well as I know my own office. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to his tour of Lough Corrib (The lake the castle sits on) because I don’t care for fishing. I was pulled out onto the water against my will. I was really looking forward to Tina and her dinner and had no interest in any activity that took me away from it. David was wonderful, however. As he took us out onto the water he told us the history of Corrib. He showed us islands with stone rings (Dolmen) dating back thousands of years before Christ. He told us myths and legends and old stories about the Lough and its people. He told us fairy tales and ghost stories and history. I could hardly keep up with it all. Finally, I gave up and just listened and looked and decided I would ask him to come back and take a notebook next time.
What I do remember clearly, was his telling of the history and ghosts of Cargin Castle. He even pointed us to a small, self published book in the library of Cargin Castle where I could find its history written. The book he guided me to was called “A Beauty Most Rare” and its history seemed to contradict much of the history I found online about the castle. First, according to online sources the castle was just a manor house of no military significance. According to Michael Carol, Castle Cargin was built by “the Norman DeBurgos in the late 13th century. It was a strategic fortress, along with Annaghkeen Castle in defendint the Manor of Headford from incursions across Lough Corrib (or Lough Orbsen as it was then known) by the dispossessed O’Flaherty clan.” The castle was of military and strategic use and was more than a country house. Carol sites Oscar Wilde’s father’s histories of the region (William Wilde) in his bibliography as well Christopher Murphy. According to Carol, De Burgo installed another Norman family, the Gaynards, as tenants of the castle and woods in Cargin and Clydagh. In this turbulent period of Irish history, raids and counter-raids to and fro across the lake made life at the castle and in the area a turbulent one. The Gaynard family which was considered an Old English family was tossed out of the castle by Cromwell supporters in the 1650s and the house was passed to the New English Staunton family. The Stauntons stripped the castle of stone and abadoned it. They used the stone to build a Georgian Manor house and the castle was left to decay. In the 1970’s the castle was restored to what it is today.
The book told several stories associated with the castle and I will retell two of them. One came from Thomas Egan:
“The Normans who lived in Cargin Castle were very friendly with those of Annaghkeen who were bitter enemies of the soldiers of Cong.
One day a small band of Cong soldiers came to Annaghkeen and seeing a man working in a field, they cut off his hands and legs and killed him.
When the soldiers in Annaghkeen Castle heard of this outrage, they sough help from the soldiers in Cargin and together marched to Cong. A great battle was fought on the plain of Maigh Tuireadh in which many men from both sides were killed.
Neither of the parties were satisfied and they fought another more bloody battle a few hundred yards from Cargin Castle beside Lough Corrib. The Cargin and Annaghkeen soldiers were victorious although very few of either army returned home.
At the place where that terrible battle took place there is a small hill, supposed to have been formed by the heap of slain soldiers who were buried there. The hill is now covered by the trees of the Clydagh Woods.”
I will save the second tale of bloodshed from Cargin Castle for the second part of this post. There is too much for one blog post. But I will end today’s post with the name of the ghost David said haunts the castle. He calls her Elizabeth and I think we have had a few run ins with her since we have been here. She kept my oldest son up quite a bit one night and she had fun with us and the light switches on another night.
If you would like to stay at the castle, you can find it on VRBO.