Local legend mourns the 17th century story of Finvola, the young and beautiful daughter of Dermot, the Chieftan of the O’Cahans, who fell in love with Angus McDonnell of the McDonnell Clan from the western isles of Scotland. Dermot consented to the marriage on the condition that on his daughter’s death, she would be brought back to Dungiven for burial.
Tragically, Finvola died young, soon after reaching the Isle of Islay and distraught, Angus could not bear to part with her and buried her on the island. On Benbradagh Mountain, Finvola’s two brothers heard a piercing wail and recognising the call of the banshee, knew that a member of their clan had died. After discovering all at home alive and well, the brothers set sail for Islay, where they recovered Finvola’s body and brought her home to Dungiven, setting the banshee’s cry at rest.
The story of Finvola is captured in the haunting Gem of the Roe Trilogy sculptures situated outside Dungiven Castle; the first depicting Finvola in the arms of Angus, the second, the lament of the banshee and the final, Finvola’s brothers searching for her.
Finvola’s story is also captured by Maurice Harron’s bronze sculptural interpretation of the legendary beauty, situated on Dungiven Main Street outside Dungiven Library.