“Belvelly Castle sits prominently on the shore of Great Island in Cork Harbour. It is said that in the seventeenth century Margaret Hodnett lived there. Mirrors were a status symbol with the wealthy at that time and Margaret was known for her love of these to remind her of her renowned beauty. She had an on-off relationship with a local lord called Clon Rockenby who asked for her hand in marriage many times but was refused.
“Eventually, Rockenby decided that the humiliation was enough and raised a small army and went to the castle to take her by force. He thought the Hodnetts, used to a luxurious life, would not withstand a siege.
“However, they surprised him by holding out for a full year before surrendering. When he entered the castle Rockenby was shocked to see the state of Margaret, skeletal and starved, a shadow of her former self, her beauty gone. Out of rage, Rockenby smashed her favourite mirror to pieces, as he did so one of the Hodnetts killed him with a sword.
“After these events Margaret descended into insanity, she was said to have sought out mirrors constantly to check if her beauty had returned. It never did. She died in old age at the castle. Her troubled ghost appears as a lady in white, sometimes with a veiled face and sometimes with no face at all. Those who have seen her say that she looks at a spot on the wall, then rubs it as if looking at her reflection.
“Apparently, one stone on the castle’s wall has been rubbed smooth over the years, perhaps the spot where her mirror used to hang. Belvelly has largely been unoccupied since the nineteenth century but is currently being renovated.”