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by , SmarterTravel Staff - October 31, 2009
Ireland: Ross Castle

Ross Castle

Overlooking Lough Sheelin, one of Ireland's midland lakes, Ross Castle was built in 1536 by Richard Nugent, called the Black Baron because of his ill-tempered ways. Visitors to the town of Ross can stop at a spot where Nugent wrongly accused a beggar of thievery and had him hanged immediately. This was just one of his many violent acts.

The Black Baron also had a beautiful daughter, Sabina, who, unlike her father, was kind and gentle. Though her father was an English Lord, Sabina spent most of her time in the Irish countryside getting to know the local folk, which is where she met Orwin, son of one of her father's enemies, an O'Reilly chieftain. They fell deeply in love, but knowing they could never be together with their families at war, they hatched a plan to elope.

Late one night, the lovers met in secret and boarded a boat to row across the lake. A sudden storm overtook the small vessel, and Orwin met a watery death. Sabina was rescued, but when she awoke after three days to the knowledge of lover's demise, she locked herself in the castle tower, refusing any food or drink, and succumbed to her broken heart.

To this day, guests will see Sabina's restless spirit walking the walls of the castle searching for her lost love. The Black Baron has also been spotted on many occasions; possibly he's unwilling to leave the place where he once ruled supreme.

Rooms start at €70 (about $103 U.S.; check XE.com for current exchange rates) per night during high season.

(Photo: Ross Castle)

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