The rat of Howth, sometimes said to be a white rat, was reputed to appear when evil threatened the House of St Laurence. Its first appearance was in the 17th century, to a Lord of Howth.
On a stormy winter evening, a ship was seen in difficulties in Howth Bay. Thrown on the rocks by an easterly gale, she broke up while the watchers on shore could do nothing to reach her. Every soul on board was presumed to have drowned, but, in the morning, a woman was found clinging to some wreckage that had been washed up on to the beach. More dead than alive, she was brought to Howth Castle, and cared for.
When the Earl of Howth came to see her, he was struck by her pallor and her beauty. Once she had recovered from the ordeal, he pressed her to stay on in the castle, and she did. Soon he was madly in love with her, but although he pressed her often to marry him, she always refused, and begged him to look for some other bride.
At last, driven by vexation and frustration, he did so, and found a bride from a nearby family. The lady from the sea gave him a ribbon, its material interwoven with strange words and signs, and asked him to wear it always on his wrist, in memory of her. Soon afterwards she left Howth Castle, and nobody knew where she had gone.
The Earl's new bride was intrigued by the ribbon, which he wore night and day. One night, soon after they were married, she undid it from his wrist as he lay sleeping in their chamber, and took it over to the fire, to look at it more closely. By ill luck she dropped it; it was sucked into the flames and immediately burned. When Lord Howth discovered its loss, he was very distressed. 'Ill fortune will come of this,' he said.
Not long after that, while a feast was going on in the castle hall, the dogs of the place chased a rat into the room. The hunted beast sprang up on the table, right in front of the Lord of Howth. Its posture and expression seemed so pleading that he saved it from the dogs. From then on, much to the distaste of his wife and family, the rat became
his pet. Wherever he went, even if he did not bring it, the rat seemed to follow him. Even to France, where he went with his brother on a tour. The rat had been left behind, but as they sat by the fire in a Marseilles hotel, it appeared, soaked and limping, as if it had travelled a great way. Exasperated, his brother took a heavy poker and, before he could be stopped, killed the animal. 'You have murdered me!' cried the Earl. That same night, he died. But the rat still haunts the castle. Female Ghost | Green Lady | Lauder | Aberdeenshire | Angus | Barcaldine | Barcaldine | Birmingham | Bishop Cameron | Bladnoch | Braemar | Carlow | Doncaster | Dublin | Dumfriesshire | Dundee | Essex | Female Ghost | Ghost | Goatfell mountain | Green Lady | Green Lady | Ireland | Ireland | Kent | Leap | Loch Fyne | Nairn | Pontefract castle | River Tyne | Scotland | Scotland | Scotland | Scotland | Shropshire | Southeastern Ireland | Sussex | The female ghost | Witchcraft |
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