The Maiden Tower and The Lady’s Finger
Maydenhayes takes its name from the 60ft Maiden Tower on Mornington Beach. The Tower dates all the way back to the 16th century, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I – in fact, some speculate the Maiden Tower was named for Queen Elizabeth, the Maiden Queen. And how did the Lady’s Finger get its name? Read below to find out!
What is the Maiden Tower?
The Tower was built as a beacon to aid Sailors navigating their way into Drogheda, and as a Landmark for the mouth of the River Boyne. The tower served as a viewing post during the Elizabethan Wars with Spain (1585 – 1603) to alert the authorities of approaching enemy ships.
The Legend of the Maiden Tower and the Lady’s Finger
The legend that has filtered down through generations is a classic story of romance and tragedy, as all good folk tales are. A beautiful local woman was in love with a local man who was called away to war. Before leaving, the woman made her lover promise he would return to her, one way or another. They struck a bargain so that if the man survived the war, he would return on a ship with white sails, and if he did not survive, the ship would arrive to port decked in black sails.
The young woman kept her vigil at the top of the Maiden Tower for many months, until she finally saw her love’s ship on the horizon. As it came closer, she could see the sails adorning the ship were black. Overwhelmed with grief, the legend goes that the young woman threw herself off the top of the tower so as to join her lover in death.
The Lady’s Finger, a 13ft high obelisk, was said to have been erected in her memory. Reportedly the term “Lady’s Finger” was coined to represent the young lady’s ring finger, which never received a wedding ring.
The Maiden Tower is now closed to the public unfortunately, but the legend still remains and you can still visit the site on Mornington Beach. Mornington Beach and Village is steeped in Irish History, and you can read more here.