Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dunmore Castle

It was still blowing a cracker of a gale and we all kind of huddled down against the walls for shelter as Dave told us the history of the place.

Dunmore Castle is centuries old. It was originally a Viking outpost but later was contested for by the MacDonald and MacLeod clans. Now both clans felt that they had a legitmate claim on the castle and lands and both realized that an outright war would only hurt both clans. So, what they agreed upon was a boat race. The first flesh ashore would have the right to claim the castle. It was a worthy battle upon the waves and the shore was filled with watchers. The MacLeods were pulling ahead and the MacDonalds were loathe to lose but couldn't see how they could pull ahead fast enough to win the race. Suddenly one of their rowers stood up and with his sword he lopped off his left hand. He then served a mighty throw and his severed hand flew through the air and landed on the beach just ahead of the MacLeods. His was the first flesh ashore and thus the MacDonalds won the castle.

Years later the castle still proudly stood. The clan chieftan had six lovely daughters and prayed desperately for a son. His wife fell pregnant for a seventh time and he was confident that this time she would bear him a son. On the day of the birth he was summoned out to one of the nearby islands for a meeting of the clan leaders. He told his guards that should his wife begin her labour that they were to signal him and he would return immediately.
Sure enough his wife began her labour pains while he was still at the meeting. The signal was given but the birth was quick and the babe was born shortly before he reached the castle. The nursemaid carried the newborn boy to the window and held him aloft to see his da rowing to him so eagerly. But the baby slippe fom her fingers and fell through the window to the rocks below. When the chieftan arrived he found not a celebration but a wake. In his fury he ordered for the nursemaid to be stoned and for her broken body to then be pushed out to sea so that she might die in agony.

The chieftan fell into a deeo despair over the loss of his son and it was soon believed that the nursemaid haunted the castle in her grief and anger. The castle fell into disrepair and in the nineteenth century they abandoned it to seek a home elsewhere.


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