#writephoto: Cappamore

I’m trying to let go of this story, but Sue’s photograph won’t let me. For her Thursday photo prompt.

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 14.34.21


Cappamore. It was tumbled down long ago because the heart had gone out of it. No one lived there after Aoife died, after her murderer died, after the old animosities and tragic misunderstandings had been put to rest. Isobel saw to that. She remembered it only as the place where her mother had wandered like a wraith after Richard died, unable to come to terms with her loss. Isobel didn’t remember her father, no more than she remembered her brother who died too, both in the lake, both at Cappamore. But she felt his warmth and the passion of her parent’s love in the stones, in the air.

Her husband had wanted to claim the place for his own once Aoife was dead, but Isobel refused him it. She was the heir, not him. Sometimes she wondered if it wouldn’t have been better to let him set up a household in the old keep, let him swagger along the banks of the lake, let the lake see to him. Because it would have done, of that she had no doubt. But finally, she decided that the revenge fate had arranged for him was sweeter, slower, more devastating than death for one so full of his own importance as William.

Isobel had borne him ten children, five girls, five boys, and the boys she had cut out of her heart as soon as they were weaned. They were too like their father, antipathetic and arrogant, but with the violent nature of his detested father. None of them produced an heir, none kept a wife, three died young, violently and needlessly, and the other two were childless poltroons. The girls had daughters, lots of daughters, and at each new granddaughter, she had laughed. All of it, a lifetime’s manoeuvring, ambition, judicious changing of sides, had garnered a wealth of lands and titles for William, yet nothing he had done would prevent his name dying with him. Isobel, daughter of a Norman earl and an Irish princess would inherit it all, and she would pass it all on to her daughters.

She savoured William’s despair. After all he had done to get his hands on her father’s lands, titles, to usurp his place in history, he would see it all revert to Richard’s granddaughters. He would leave no more trace than a dying ripple on the surface of the lake. Isobel watched as he was forced to accept the inevitable, the gnawing anger and frustration that spoilt his every pleasure, turned every taste to bitter bile in his mouth. She knew the part he had played in her father’s death, and when he lay dying, she whispered as much in his ear, and placed on his soul the curse the Guivre had cried out in her sorrow.

On his deathbed, she described to him how she was having Cappamore pulled down, stone by stone. Later, she would have the lake filled in too, but not yet, she said. She let him watch in the water mirror as all the ghosts were put to rest, all except one, the ghost that would never be still, the ghost he recognised, all in white samite dressed and her hair golden as ripe barley in the morning. His eyes widened with terror as she stepped from the lake; Isobel made sure he saw. He turned to her, his old man’s watery eyes pleading. He tried to call out, but who could he ask to protect him from a ghost? Was his great castle not protection enough?

She forced him to watch as the woman left the lake and left the mountains, walking the hills and forests, drawing closer. The she sent away the servants and let the woman in white into William’s bedchamber. She closed the door behind her, letting the woman take her revenge alone.


All is at peace now. The lake gone, the ghosts still, but the wind still murmurs the lovers’ names. All three.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

30 thoughts on “#writephoto: Cappamore”

  1. Revenge by women and new generations of women in ownership and leadership. Sounds just, given the nature of the men, the man, who want to be in charge. The imagery is figuratively and literally haunting. This is a read that grips.

      1. I’m pleased 🙂
        Irish history is still very mixed up with legend until the Normans get involved but you still find divergences of opinion as to what really happened especially to the women in the story. The Norman/English version doesn’t take them into account and ‘assumes’ they conformed to expectations. The Irish version…differs.

      2. Most early Irish history was written or re-written by Giraldus Cambrensis, a Welsh monk who had about as much admiration for the Irish as I have for the KKK, the supporters of the PSG or the people who leave their gardens lit up like High Mass all night.

      3. Him (and his view of the Irish ) I have heard of.
        The oral history – and the tales. Now that’s where you look.
        May be only a smudge of Irish heritage with me, but somehow the genes do seem leave a mark.
        Always appreciate your knowledge and writings

      4. The pre-Christian history has had a lot of retouching by the monks. One reason there are so many versions of the same story/person/event. It’s interesting to pick out the elements that have been added or changed to make the story fit better into Christian teaching.

        It’s funny, and touching how many people are proud to claim even a bit of Irish heritage. I’m not sure every nation is held in the same affection.

      5. It’s the music. The dance. The story telling tradition. The struggles and the spirit. Gotta be that. All so closer to what it is to actually be human? The Irish perhaps are closer to prime and what is true?
        There is something calling
        We should be glad it survives

      6. It helps to have always been the underdog, never to have been a colonial power or to have had institutionalised violence…and to have taken on the British Empire and won 🙂

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