The McQuillan Banshee

One of the most popular tales associated with the McQuillans and Dunluce Castle is the legend of Maeve Roe, the McQuillan Banshee. There are many flavours of the legend but a typical retelling is as follows.

Maeve Roe McQuillan, the beautiful Lord’s daughter, fell in love with Reginald O’Cahan. The O’Cahans were one of the McQuillans’ bitterest rivals and the Lord of the Route did not see Reginald as a suitable match for Maeve. In attempting to dissuade Maeve from marrying Reginald, he took the rather extreme step of locking her in the north eastern tower of Dunluce. With no servants to attend her or friends to keep her company, Maeve spent the lonely days and nights pining for her lover and sweeping her room with a brush. After some days, her father grew worried at how distraught Maeve Roe had become. He took pity on her and hatched a scheme to allow her to reunite with Reginald which at the same time allowed him to save face.

On a wild and windy night, the Lord left the castle with his clansmen on a raiding mission into a rival’s territory. While he was away, he had instructed one of his servants to free Maeve Roe from her tower and lead her to the Mermaid’s Cave underneath the castle where Reginald was waiting for her. There was a boat nearby to allow them the means to escape. However, as you may have guessed, there wasn’t a happy ending. Due to the storm, the row boat crashed against the rocks and the couple were drowned. Reginald’s remains were subsequently washed ashore but Maeve Roe’s body was never found. Maeve’s ghost continues to haunt the tower to this day, sweeping the room she had been imprisoned in. Not only that, Maeve Roe also became the family banshee, mourning the impending passing of McQuillans with her sorrowful wail.

Tony G.

PS, here’s the sheet music of the wail of a banshee so those musically inclined among you can terrify your neighbours this Halloween.

Banshee Sheet Music