|This cletic cross is in the Connemara
|Erected to honor those who died from hunger in 1916
During the potato famine in County Clare and County Gallway(some
of the worst affected areas) people drew blood from the necks od cattle in order to make the ghastly "relish cakes".
Fresh blood mixed with oatmeal and greens and baked into tiny cakes;used to stave off hunger pains. Starving villagers
were known to drink blood directly from the veins of cattle, or bit the heads off chickens in order to gain nourishment.
In Counties Roscommon and Mayo, the starving people were said to drink the blood of dogs. After the
potato famine, it was said that some of those who had tasted blood had become addicted to it and secretly continued to drink
it, becoming human vampires.
FAIREYS OF IRELAND
dullaghan, far dorocha, Crom Dubh The dullahan is one of the most spectacular creatures in the
Irish fairy realm and one which is particularly active in the more remote parts of counties Sligo and Down. Around midnight on certain Irish festivals or feast days, this wild and black-robed
horseman may be observed riding a dark and snorting steed across the countryside. W. J. Fitzpatrick, a storyteller from the Mourne Mountains in County Down, recounts: "I seen the dullahan myself, stopping on the brow of the hill between Bryansford
and Moneyscalp late one evening, just as the sun was setting. It was completely headless but it held up its own head in its
hand and I heard it call out a name. I put my hand across my ears in case the name was my own, so I couldn't hear what it
said. When I looked again, it was gone. But shortly afterwards, there was a bad car accident on that very hill and a young
man was killed. It had been his name that the dullahan was calling". Dullahans are headless. Although the dullahan has no head upon its shoulders, he carries it with him, either
on the saddle-brow of his horse or upraised in his right hand. The head is the colour and texture of stale dough or mouldy
cheese, and quite smooth. A hideous, idiotic grin splits the face from ear to ear, and the eyes, which are small and black,
dart about like malignant flies. The entire head glows with the phosphoresence of decaying matter and the creature may use
it as a lantern to guide its way along the darkened laneways of the Irish countryside. Wherever the dullahan stops, a mortal
dies. The dullahan is possessed of supernatural
sight. By holding his severed head aloft, he can see for vast distances across the countryside, even on the darkest night.
Using this power, he can spy the house of a dying person, no matter where it lies. Those who watch from their windows to see
him pass are rewarded for their pains by having a basin of blood thrown in their faces, or by being struck blind in one eye.
The dullahan is usually mounted on a black steed,
which thunders through the night. He uses a human spine as a whip. The horse sends out sparks and flames from its nostrils
as it charges forth. In some parts of the country, such as County Tyrone, the dullahan drives a black coach known as the coach-a-bower
(from the Irish coiste bodhar, meaning 'deaf or silent coach'). This is drawn by six black horses, and travels so fast that
the friction created by its movement often sets on fire the bushes along the sides of the road. All gates fly open to let
rider and coach through, no matter how firmly they are locked, so no one is truly safe from the attentions of this fairy.
BANSHEE:The bean-sidhe (woman of the fairy may be an ancestral spirit appointed to forewarn members of certain ancient
Irish families of their time of death. According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the
O'Neills, the O'Briens, the O'Connors, the O'Gradys and the Kavanaghs. Intermarriage has since extended this select list. Whatever her origins, the banshee chiefly appears in one of three
guises: a young woman, a stately matron or a raddled old hag. These represent the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of
war and death, namely Badhbh, Macha and Mor-Rioghain.) She usually wears either a grey, hooded cloak or the winding sheet
or grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may also appear as a washer-woman, and is seen apparently washing the blood stained
clothes of those who are about to die. In this guise she is known as the bean-nighe (washing woman). Although not always seen, her mourning call is heard, usually
at night when someone is about to die. In 1437, King James I of Scotland was approached by an Irish seeress or banshee who
foretold his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. This is an example of the banshee in human form. There are records
of several human banshees or prophetesses attending the great houses of Ireland and the courts of local Irish kings. In some
parts of Leinster, she is referred to as the bean chaointe (keening woman) whose wail can be so piercing that it shatters
glass. In Kerry, the keen is experienced as a "low, pleasant singing"; in Tyrone as "the sound of two boards
being struck together"; and on Rathlin Island as "a thin, screeching sound somewhere between the wail of a woman
and the moan of an owl". The banshee may also
appear in a variety of other forms, such as that of a hooded crow, stoat, hare and weasel - animals associated in Ireland
LEPRECHAUN:The name leprechaun may have derived from the Irish leath bhrogan (shoemaker), although its origins may lie
in luacharma'n (Irish for pygmy). These apparently aged, diminutive men are frequently to be found in an intoxicated state,
caused by home-brew poteen. However they never become so drunk that the hand which holds the hammer becomes unsteady and their
shoemaker's work affected. Leprechauns have also
become self-appointed guardians of ancient treasure (left by the Danes when they marauded through Ireland), burying it in
crocks or pots. This may be one reason why leprechauns tend to avoid contact with humans whom they regard as foolish, flighty
(and greedy?) creatures. If caught by a mortal, he will promise great wealth if allowed to go free. He carries two leather
pouches. In one there is a silver shilling, a magical coin that returns to the purse each time it is paid out. In the other
he carries a gold coin which he uses to try and bribe his way out of difficult situations. This coin usually turns to leaves
or ashes once the leprechaun has parted with it.However, you must never take your eye off him, for he can vanish in an instant.
The leprechaun 'family' appears split into two distinct
groups - leprechaun and cluricaun. Cluricauns may steal or borrow almost anything, creating mayhem in houses during the hours
of darkness, raiding wine cellars and larders. They will also harness sheep, goats, dogs and even domestic fowl and ride them
throughout the country at night. Although the leprechaun has been described as Ireland's national
fairy, this name was originally only used in the north Leinster area. Variants include lurachmain, lurican, lurgadhan.
Grogochs : Grogochs were originally
half human, half-fairy aborigines who came from Kintyre in Scotland to settle in Ireland. The grogoch, well-known throughout
north Antrim, Rathlin Island and parts of Donegal, may also to be found on the Isle of Man, where they are called 'phynnodderee'.
Resembling a very small elderly man, though covered in coarse, dense reddish hair or fur, he wears no clothes, but sports
a variety of twigs and dirt from his travels. Grogochs are not noted for their personal hygiene: there are no records of any
female grogochs. The grogoch is impervious to searing
heat or freezing cold. His home may be a cave, hollow or cleft in the landscape. In numerous parts of the northern countryside
are large leaning stones which are known as 'grogochs' houses'. He has the power of invisibility and will often only allow certain trusted people to observe him. A very sociable being,
the grogoch. He may even attach himself to certain individuals and help them with their planting and harvesting or with domestic
chores - for no payment other than a jug of cream. He
will scuttle about the kitchen looking for odd jobs to do and will invariably get under people's feet. Like many other fairies,
the grogoch has a great fear of the clergy and will not enter a house if a priest or minister is there. If the grogoch is
becoming a nuisance, it is advisable to get a clergyman into the house and drive the creature away to inadvertently torment
THE POOKA:Variants: phouka, puca No fairy is more feared in Ireland
than the pooka. This may be because it is always out and about after nightfall, creating harm and mischief, and because it
can assume a variety of terrifying forms. The guise
in which it most often appears, however, is that of a sleek, dark horse with sulphurous yellow eyes and a long wild mane.
In this form, it roams large areas of countryside at night, tearing down fences and gates, scattering livestock in terror,
trampling crops and generally doing damage around remote farms. In remote areas of County Down, the pooka becomes a small, deformed goblin who demands a share of the crop at the end
of the harvest: for this reason several strands, known as the 'pooka's share', are left behind by the reapers. In parts of
County Laois, the pooka becomes a huge, hairy bogeyman who terrifies those abroad at night; in Waterford and Wexford, it appears
as an eagle with a massive wingspan; and in Roscommon, as a black goat with curling horns. The mere sight of it may prevent hens laying their eggs or cows giving milk, and
it is the curse of all late night travellers as it is known to swoop them up on to its back and then throw them into muddy
ditches or bogholes. The pooka has the power of human speech, and it has been known to stop in front of certain houses and
call out the names of those it wants to take upon its midnight dashes. If that person refuses, the pooka will vandalise their
property because it is a very vindictive fairy. The
origins of the pooka are to some extent speculative. The name may come from the Scandinavian pook or puke, meaning 'nature
spirit'. Such beings were very capricious and had to be continually placated or they would create havoc in the countryside,
destroying crops and causing illness among livestock. Alternatively, the horse cults prevalent throughout the early Celtic
world may have provided the underlying motif for the nightmare steed. Other authorities suggest that the name comes from the early Irish poc meaning either 'a male goat' or a
'blow from a cudgel'. However, the horse cult origin is perhaps the most plausible since many of these cults met on high ground
and the main abode of the pooka is believed to be on high mountain tops. There is a waterfall formed by the river Liffey in
the Wicklow mountains known as the Poula Phouk (the pooka's hole), and Binlaughlin Mountain in County Fermanagh is also known
as the 'peak of the speaking horse'. In some areas
of the country, the pooka is rather more mysterious than dangerous, provided it is treated with proper respect. The pooka
may even be helpful on occasion, issuing prophecies and warnings where appropriate. For example, the folklorist Douglas Hyde
referred to a 'plump, sleek, terrible steed' which emerged from a hill in Leinster and which spoke in a human voice to the
people there on the first day of November. It was accustomed to give "intelligent and proper answers to those who consulted
it concerning all that would befall them until November the next year. And the people used to leave gifts and presents at
the hill..." Something similar seems to have
occurred in south Fermanagh, where the tradition of gathering on certain high places to await a speaking horse was observed
on Bilberry Sunday until quite recently. Only one
man has ever managed to ride the pooka and that was Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland. Using a special bridle containing
three hairs from the pooka's tail, Brian managed to control the magic horse and stay on its back until, exhausted, it surrendered
to his will. The king extracted two promises from it; firstly, that it would no longer torment Christian people and ruin their
property and secondly, that it would never again attack an Irishman (all other nationalities are exempt) except those who
are drunk or abroad with an evil intent. The latter it could attack with greater ferocity than before. The pooka agreed to
these conditions. However, over the intervening years, it seems to have forgotten its bargain and attacks on property and
sober travellers on their way home continue to this day.
MERROW:The word merrow or moruadh comes from the Irish muir (meaning sea) and oigh (meaning maid) and refers specifically
to the female of the species. Mermen - the merrows male counterparts - have been rarely seen. They have been described as
exceptionally ugly and scaled, with pig-like features and long, pointed teeth. Merrows themselves are extremely beautiful
and are promiscuous in their relations with mortals. The
Irish merrow differs physically from humans in that her feet are flatter than those of a mortal and her hands have a thin
webbing between the fingers. It should not be assumed that merrows are kindly and well-disposed towards mortals. As members
of the sidhe, or Irish fairy world, the inhabitants of Tir fo Thoinn (the Land beneath the Waves) have a natural antipathy
towards humans. In some parts of Ireland, they are regarded as messengers of doom and death. Merrows have special clothing to enable them to travel through ocean currents. In
Kerry, Cork and Wexford, they wear a small red cap made from feathers, called a cohullen druith. However, in more northerly
waters they travel through the sea wrapped in sealskin cloaks, taking on the appearance and attributes of seals. In order
to come ashore, the merrow abandons her cap or cloak, so any mortal who finds these has power over her, as she cannot return
to the sea until they are retrieved. Hiding the cloak in the thatches of his house, a fisherman may persuade the merrow to
marry them. Such brides are often extremely wealthy, with fortunes of gold plundered from shipwrecks. Eventually the merrow
will recover the cloak, and find her urge to return to the sea so strong that she leaves her human husband and children behind.
Many coastal dwellers have taken merrows as lovers
and a number of famous Irish families claim their descent from such unions, notably the O'Flaherty and O'Sullivan families
of Kerry and the MacNamaras of Clare. The Irish poet W B Yeats reported a further case in his Irish Fairy and Folk Tales:
"Near Bantry in the last century, there is said to have been a woman, covered in scales like a fish, who was descended
from such a marriage". Despite her wealth and beauty, you should be particularly wary about encountering this marine
CHANGELINGS:Variants: stocks It appears that fairy women all
over Ireland find birth a difficult experience. Many fairy children die before birth and those that do survive are often stunted
or deformed creatures. The adult fairies, who are
aesthetic beings, are repelled by these infants and have no wish to keep them. They will try to swap them with healthy children
who they steal from the mortal world. The wizened, ill tempered creature left in place of the human child is generally known
as a changeling and possesses the power to work evil in a household. Any child who is not baptised or who is overly admired
is especially at risk of being exchanged. It is
their temperament, however, which most marks the changeling. Babies are generally joyful and pleasant, but the fairy substitute
is never happy, except when some calamity befalls the household. For the most part, it howls and screeches throughout the
waking hours and the sound and frequency of its yells often transcend the bounds of mortal endurance. A changeling can be one of three types: actual fairy children; senile fairies who
are disguised as children or, inanimate objects, such as pieces of wood which take on the appearance of a child through fairy
magic. This latter type is known as a stock. Puckered
and wizened features coupled with yellow, parchment-like skin are all generic changeling attributes. This fairy will also
exhibit very dark eyes, which betray a wisdom far older than its apparent years. Changelings display other characteristics,
usually physical deformities, among which a crooked back or lame hand are common. About two weeks after their arrival in the
human household, changelings will also exhibit a full set of teeth, legs as thin as chicken bones, and hands which are curved
and crooked as birds' talons and covered with a light, downy hair. No luck will come to a family in which there is a changeling because the creature drains away all the good
fortune which would normally attend the household. Thus, those who are cursed with it tend to be very poor and struggle desperately
to maintain the ravenous monster in their midst. One
positive feature which this fairy may demonstrate is an aptitude for music. As it begins to grow, the changeling may take
up an instrument, often the fiddle or the Irish pipes, and plays with such skill that all who hear it will be entranced. This
report is from near Boho in County Fermanagh. "I
saw a changeling one time. He lived with two oul' brothers away beyond the Dog's Well and looked like a wee wizened monkey.
He was about ten or eleven but he couldn't really walk, just bobbed about. But he could play the whistle the best that you
ever heard. Old tunes that the people has long forgotten, that was all he played. Then one day, he was gone and I don't know
what happened to him at all."
THE FIR GORTA(MAN OF HUNGER)
An emaciated creature somewhere between a spectre
and a fairy, tramped the roads with a staff in one hand and a small begging cup in the other. At houses it passed, it
would rattle the cup and make a faint call for alms. If those in the house did not leave a coin or a piece of food by
the back door for him, sickness and perhaps death would descend upon them.
Tadhg O'Carroll, was the owner of LEAP CASTLE in southern Offaly. Its name comes from
the ancient Irish "Leim ui Bhanain" (The leap of the O'Bannions) and has its own blood soaked legend.
The O'Carrolls, a fierce and cruel sept, settled
in the ancient Kingdom of ELY, which stretched right across Offaly and part of North Tipperary. These lands wre inhabited
by a number of clans, one of which was the O'Bannions. The O'Carrolls killed off all their enemies except for the O'Bannions.
In an attempt to resolve the situation, a weird deal was hatched. Near the site of an ancient Christian Foundation at
Sier Kieron stood two great rocks, some distance apart. If an O'Bannion champion could jump between them and survive,
his clan could retain its lands; if not, it passed into the hands of the O'Carrols. The leap was made, but the warrior fell
short of the stone and was dashed to pieces on the ground below. To celebrate the "victory", a castle was
erected on the spot, the stones of its foundation were held together by mortar mixed with the blood of the fallen O'Bannion.
But the Castle, Leap, was cursed the words of the curse being "raised in blood; blood be its portion" and many O'Carrolls
died there, some from mysterious circumstances.
In the 1500's One-eyed Tadhg of Leap Castle, killed his own brother, Tahddeus MacFir, a priest, slitting his throat
while he said mass. The chapel was then turned into a banquet hall and Tadhg had an oubliette installed. This
was a fearsome drop, like a dumbwaiter that fell all the way to the base of the tower. Into this his enemies were thrown
and then bricked in, and forgotten about(the name oubliette comes from the French Oublier-to forget). In one night,
he threw 40 of the O'mahon's, an enemy clan he invited to a banquet on the guise of making peace, into the pit and sealed
them in. His cousin murdered him and in 1688, the O'Carrolls finally left the area in return for a grant from the English
of 60,000 acres of land in Maryland in America. It is considered the most haunted site in western Europe today.
|oubliette where enemies where thrown and sealed up
|Leap Castle, Ireland
|Legend of Carrickaphouka Castle
for instance, Cormac Tadhg McCarthy of Carrickaphouka Castle near Macroom, County Cork, was made high sherrif of the county.
Carrickaphouka had a sinister reputation, the name means "the rock of pouka, the pouka or pooka being a type of demon
that terrorized many places in Ireland. Sometimes it appeared as a great horse;sometimes as a ferral goat with long
curling horns. The rock on which the McCarthy Castle stood was supposed to be inhabited by one such being and its evil
was reflected in its cheif inhabitant; Cormac Tadhg McCarthy, a fierce brooding man.
After he died, his body was said to return to the castle, animated
by dark forces in order to attack and drink the blood of passers by.
In 1874, the Irish Monthly used the term "derrick-dally" is probably an anglicized corruption
of the ancient Irish name for such ghosts(dearg-dulai or dear-dul). It translates as "red blood sucker" but
is taken to mean "one who drinks blood". For ancient Celts, blood was the symbol of life; it was the essence
of a person; the source of his wisdom, skill and strength.
Tadhg O'Carroll and Cormac
McCarthy are counter among what the Irish have called the Margh-bheo-the walking dead. There is a tale of a blood-drinking
fairy or coprse that haunts the road between Dun Chaoin(Dunquinn) and Baile Feirtearaigh (Ballyferinter) on the Dingle Pennisnsula
in County Kerry. The dearg-dul is said to be particularly active along a stretch of roadway near a place known as Casadh
na Graise, where two streams meet. In County Galway, the area Glan na Scail is taken to mean "the valley of the
phantom" or "dark-supernatural being".
There are stories of fairies
in the far hill, that would attack travelers in order to suck the blood from their arms and legs!
Irish Chieftan who ruled mercilously over his people, he killed his enemies brutally and was known to have a lust for blood.
Another chieftan named Cathan was hired to kill Abhartach. He did, burying him standing up, a befitting burial for an
Irish Chieftan. The next day however, Abhartach was back demanding a basin filled with blood from the wrists of his
subjects in order to sustain his vile corpse. Cathan came and slew him again and buried him in the same place.
The following day, the ghastly cadaveor came back again with the same grisly demand for blood. A druid priest came to
the conclusion that Abhartach was not dead but in a state of suspension due to his dark arts. He had become "undead"
and can not be killed. He was then killed with a sword made of yew wood and buried upside-down and a large stone was
placed on top. To this day, locals will not go near the field after nightfall.