'Sophie a Murder in West Cork': The Haunting Story Behind Three Castle Head and the White Lady

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork on Netflix delves deeply into the unsolved murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

On December 23, 1996, Du Plantier's body was found on the path outside of her holiday home by a neighbor, just days before she was due to fly home to Paris for Christmas. She had suffered multiple blunt head and facial injuries at the hands of her killer.

English journalist Ian Bailey was the main suspect in the case, but no charges were filed against him in Ireland due to the lack of physical evidence. He continues to protest his innocence and gives his side of the story in Sophie: A Murder in West Cork.

French courts have made several extradition requests, seeking to question Bailey over Du Plantier's murder.

In 2019, Bailey was tried in absentia in France after winning a legal battle against extradition. He was subsequently convicted of murder by the Cour d'Assises de Paris and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Bailey has never served time behind bars for Du Plantier's murder and Ireland's High Court ruled in 2020 that he couldn't be extradited to France to serve his sentence. As of 2021, his case remains locked in a stalemate.

The first episode of Sophie: A Murder in West Cork, titled "The World Turned Upside Down," touches on the days before Du Plantier's death and the last known moments before she was brutally killed.

In the documentary, Ian Bailey recalls how he received a phone call from Yvonne Ungerer, who owned a property on Three Castle Head.

Ungerer reportedly told Bailey she had received a visit from Sophie on Sunday, December 22, and that she claimed to have had a "very strange experience."

The Three Castle Head and the White Lady

Three Castle Head is the name given to Dunlough Castle, a 13th-century castle situated on the edge of 100-meter cliffs on the western headland above Mizen Head.

The castle, built by Donagh na Aimrice O'Mahoney in 1207 consists of three towers, earning the nickname Three Castle Head.

The O'Mahoney family remained in Dunlough Castle for 400 years until it was confiscated by the British crown in 1627.

The three towers are connected by a 20 feet rampart wall, one of the highest medieval walls still intact in Ireland today.

Behind the castle is 40 acres of land known as the "island," which provides an incredible view of the surrounding land and sea from Mizen Head to the Beara Peninsula.

Three Castle Head is shrouded in legends and spooky myths because of its eerie atmosphere and dark history. The last family who resided in the castle were the O'Donohues, who reportedly all died in a mass suicide or murder.

Allegedly, every day a drop of blood relating to the O'Donohue family lands in the tower by the lake.

There is also a local myth that claims there is a white "Lady of the Lake" who haunts the still lake. The common belief is that if you see the white lady, your death will be imminent.

According to accounts given by Du Plantier's family in the Netflix documentary Sophie: A Murder in West Cork, Du Plantier visited Three Castle Head and the lake, where she is believed to have encountered the White Lady.

Later that same day, Du Plantier visited her friends, the Ungerers, and told them about her experience.

The Ungerers weren't originally from Ireland and Du Plantier's aunt, Marie-Madeleine Opalka, states in the documentary that if Du Plantier had told a native Irish person what she had seen, they wouldn't have let her leave.

Opalka said: "She saw something terrible, and it scared her.

'Woman Like a White Shape'

"She arrived at the Ungerers' house really scared, saying, 'Oh my God, I saw a woman, like a white shape.'"

According to the Netflix documentary, the Ungerers have since said if they had known about the legend, they wouldn't have let her go either.

Du Plantier's cousin, Frederic Gazeau, added: "I learned this story about this lady, this mythological, legendary character who lives at this place on the lake. When you see her, it means you are going to die in the hours that follow."

The morning after Du Plantier's trip to Three Castle Head, Du Plantier's body was found at approximately 10 a.m. outside of her home.

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork is now streaming on Netflix.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier visited Three Castle Head the day before her death. Netflix