Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Poor Petronella

Since I loved the castle area so much, I went back today and took the tour (student price with my ISIC card!). In addition to part of the castle redone to 14th century refurbishments, there were modern spacial imaging displays with thought provoking videos. While it may have seemed like a good channel to get out information (seemingly not related to the castle at all) it interfered with my tour!

My favorite part of the tour was the upper bedroom where John Kelly, tour assistant, told the story of the beautiful Alice Kyteler. She was a lady of Kilkenny with the ambition to marry well. She did so four different times. Each time the husband seemed to mysteriously die not too long after they were married. On the fourth husband it was said a few days after the wedding his hair turned gray and his teeth fell out and after a week he was cold in the grave. The deceased's family did not take the news very well and in turn had Alice investigated by the new bishop in town. The bishop declared Alice and her maid, Pertonella, to be witches. They were captured and tortured for a week where they admitted to all sorts of black magic and creating potions with spiders legs. They even said the devil had visited them many times in the form of a black dog. I can imagine you'd admit to many things with the torture prominent in those days. Petronella was imprisoned in the jail while Alice, being a lady of wealth (by her 4th husband),was locked up in the upper bedroom of Kilkenny Castle. It was here where she made her escape whether by broom as some say, or by the trap door hidden in the sidewall of the bedroom (which was on display for tourists to see). It was said the tunnel used to go down the 6 miles to Dunmore Caves where Alice escaped, and then left for England. Poor Pertonella did not fair as well. She was burned at the stake as the first and last woman Ireland bestowed such a punishment upon.

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