The White Lady of Kinsale


My latest Visual Communications assignment was based on the theme of Macabre Ireland. We were asked to go out and research a local myth or legend, and create a book cover for it using photography, collage, and photo-manipulation. I chose to base mine on the story of the White Lady of Kinsale.


The story goes something like this:

In the early 18th century, Charles Fort was governed by a man called Colonel Warrender. He had a beautiful daughter, named Wilful, who fell in love with a man called Trevor Ashurst, an officer stationed at the fort. On the night of their wedding, Wilful and Trevor took a walk along the battlements. Wilful noticed a crop of flowers growing on the rocks at the base of the fort and set her heart of having them. Trevor, eager to please his new wife, promised to fetch the flowers for her, and sent her home to wait for his return. 

Once Wilful had left, Trevor turned to the nearest sentry on duty and asked that he retrieve the flowers instead. The sentry agreed, on the condition that Trevor take his place in the sentry box. The two men switched uniforms and the sentry set off to fetch the flowers. Trevor promptly fell asleep in the sentry box.



Colonel Warrender, Wilful's father, was known to be a strict disciplinarian. Upon discovering the sentry asleep at his post, the Colonel immediately shot him through the heart. After the shot was fired, the colonel examined the body and discovered that he had just killed his daughter's husband.

When Wilful heard the gunshot, she ran to the battlements to investigate. She was so distraught by the sight of her father holding the dead body of her husband that she immediately ran to the edge, and threw herself from the fort and into the waves below. 

To this day, the ghost of Wilful Warrender is said to wander the battlements of Charles Fort, still wearing her wedding dress. 



I ended up making two trips to Charles Fort, in Kinsale, over the past month or so to do research and to gather photographs. On the second occasion, I brought my dear friend Emily with me, who very kindly wore a white sun-dress and posed as Wilful for me, despite the freezing damp and bitterly cold weather. I'm forever grateful to her! The top image is the final book cover that I came up with, and the rest are a few of the photographs I took in their original state.