On the northern coast of Antrim, about midway between Portrush and the Giant's Causeway, perched on a rock, almost separated from the mainland by a precipitous chasm, stand the ruins of the castle of Dunluce. In the fifteenth century, Maeve, the only daughter of the Lord of Dunluce, a girl of seventeen, lived with her father in the fortress. Gentle and charitable, she rose at dawn, and spent her day helping the poor dependants who lived on the estate. During one of her walks she met a handsome cavalier, and thereafter encountered him many times, falling in love with him. Where he came from she did not know, but eventually the news of their meetings reached the ears of her father, MacQuillian, who had plans to wed her to the son of a rich and powerful neighbour.
But the girl decided she would rather die than marry someone she did not love, so she began to knit a shroud. One day her father found her at work on it and asked, 'Is this your bridal dress ?'
'No father,' she replied, 'it is my shroud.'
'A shroud ! We shall see to that.'
'Yes father, you shall see it.'
The enraged father then decided to lock her up in one of the towers, where she was obliged to make her own bed and sweep her room. One day her father came to the door and said 'Only promise to wed the noble chief I have selected for you, and you shall have your freedom.' She didnt answer. 'What have you decided ?' he shouted.
'To sweep my room.'
'For how long ?'
'Are you still making your shroud ?'
'Its finished. You shall see it.'
Seeing that nothing would change her mind, the Lord began to feel remorse. Either he must yield, or she must die. He found out who the mysterious lover was. His name was Reginald, a brave youth, of noble birth and wealthy. He made a decision - he would not yield, but would still save his child.
One day, as a storm raged outside and the thunder pealed, Maeve was weeping in her teuret (?). That morning her father had left the castle with an escort of soldiers and was due to return for some days. To her surprise she heard the key turning in the lock, and the door opened. It was one of her father's servants.
'You shall be saved, he awaits you,' said the man. 'Follow me'.
He led her to the cavern below the fort where her lover greated her. He said that having heard her father was leaving he had bribed the servant who had freed her. She got into the small boat her lover had waiting, and the frail craft set on the stormy sea.
From a window her father watched; the escape had been part of a plan he concocted, pretending to leave, but secretly re-entering the castle. The servant had been his accomplice. MacQuillian rejoiced to have discovered the means of restoring life and happiness to his daughter without in any way sacrificing his pride.
His eyes were on the little boat as it made its way through the raging sea. 'Alas,' he said, 'that I should be obliged to see my daughter driven from home, and myself the cause of it. They think of nothing at the moment but their love. It matters not, I saved her.'
But just as he spoke he saw the boat rise up on top of a large wave and suddenly disappear. He rushed out and called to his men to try and save her, but it was too late. She had disappeared for ever.
For weeks, the father, mad with grief, walked along the shore calling on his daughter. One day, passing under the tower where she had shed so many tears, he looked up. A strange vision ! Maeve was at the bars of the window clad in her shroud with her broom in her hand. Bereft of reason, her father cried - 'For how long ?'
'For ever' came the reply, and the figure showed him her shroud saying, 'It is finished as you see.'
She became the Banshee of the family, but since the family died out she appears no longer. But they say that one can still hear her broom sweeping on a quiet, calm day.