The Faceless Lady
Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Irish Ghost Stories
Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?
There was a famous beauty who lived in Belvelly castle overlooking Cork Harbour in the seventeenth century, and word of her ethereal comeliness spread far and wide. It reached the ears of a local lord by the name of Clon Rockenby, and he declared he must have her for his wife.
Her name was Lady Margaret Hodnett, and although she was quite fond of her own reflection in the mirror, she didn't find Lord Rockenby to her tastes at all, so however often he asked for her hand in marriage, as often again did she refuse him!
After the last humiliating refusal, Rockenby decided to take her for his wife whether or not she felt so inclined, and he roused up his armies and went to war. He reckoned the Hodnetts, pampered so long in lap of luxury, would fold over easy enough before his show of arms.
Well he couldn't have been more mistaken, for they held out in their castle for a whole year before opening their gates to him. Upon entering, he went directly to his bride to be, but was appalled to see how thin and shrivelled she had become out of starvation. His lust thwarted, in rage he smashed her favourite mirror, just before her brother ran him through with a sword.
After this, Margaret went slowly insane, and she went from mirror to mirror to see if her luscious beauty had returned, but it never did, and she lived out her days never leaving the castle.
Local legend has it that her ghost still roams the halls and gardens of the castle, sometimes wearing a white veil, sometimes with no face at all! Her shade sometimes rubs a place on the wall as if touching a mirror, and that spot on the stone is smooth.
Belvelly Castle on the shore of Great Island in Cork Harbour can be seen on the map below.
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