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It is March, and St. Patrick’s Day is this month, and you know that those leprechauns are out in full force protecting their gold at the end of all those rainbows we see. So it’s only fitting to learn all about the creepiest, scariest and downright terrifying Irish myths and legends.
Beware of those around you. The Banshee is supposedly a woman who brings with her the omen of death. It is said that she can take many forms, such as those of a woman dressed in rags, or a young and rather beautiful girl, or even a maid, wringing out bloody clothing. When spotted, she would let out a horrid piercing cry, and according to legend, those who heard this cry brought death upon them. It is said that King James I of Scotland believed that he was approached by a Banshee. Not long after his purported encounter, he passed away.
According to legend, when female fairies gave birth, their offspring was often deformed. These fairies much rather preferred the visually appealing babies of the human race, and as such, would venture into our mortal realm and swap a human baby with a changeling. The changeling supposedly looked like a human infant, but carried none of the same emotional characteristics, and was only happy when chaos and tension ran through the household.
3. The Demon Bride
The Demon Bride is a ravishingly beautiful, but maliciously evil spirit. It is said that she will seduce a mortal man, and then steal his soul through a kiss. After such a kiss, it is said that the man dies the painful death of a madman, haunted by the memory of his very fatal mistake. A femme fatale, indeed.
4. The Alp-luachra
This one is a stomach churner. The Alp-luachra, also known in Celtic mythology as a “joint-eater” actually doesn’t devour your joints, so your knees and elbows are safe. This is a bizarre type of fairy that eats its victim’s food. Yep, that’s it. Not so scary, right? Except in order to eat its victims food, if they should fall asleep next to a stream, the Alp-luachra assumes the form of a newt and slithers down the victim’s throat to enjoy a quick bite. As long as you don’t make a habit of camping near streams, you should be fine.
Definitely the remedy to our 21st century sparkling vampires, the Dearg-Due has a far better backstory than Edward Cullen. Legend has it that Dearg-Due (which translates into red blood sucker), was once a gorgeous woman who fell in love with a peasant boy, but who was being forced into an arranged marriage by her family, but killed herself to avoid the fate. It was said that after her funeral, she rose from the grave and murdered her entire family for forcing her into such a state.
6. The Dullahan
The name ‘Dullahan’ translates roughly into “dark man.” He is the foreteller of death, and essentially the Irish version of the headless horseman. It is said that he rides a headless black horse which possesses flaming eyes, and he carries his own head under one arm. If he stops riding, a human mortal dies.
It sounds so cute, doesn’t it? However, the Kelpie is a rather sinister creature from Celtic lore. It is said that this creature can take on multiple shapes, however it more often appears in the form of a horse. Legend has it that Kelpie rode around Ireland, acting like a lost pony, in an attempt to trick children and women into riding it. If someone hopped onto the horse, it would then run directly into the water, immediately drowning its victim and then proceed to eat them. Pony rides are fun, right?!
Selkies are very similar to mermaids. However, they appear as brown seals by day and take on a human form by night. It is said that sailors who caught a Selkie at night in their human form would go on to marry these brown eyed beauties, where they would serve as faithful wives, but forever long for the sea.
You know that we couldn’t create this list without the leprechauns! They are said to be a kind of fairy, one that creates shoes for all of the other fairy folk that inhabit Ireland. The legend has it that when the Danes invaded Ireland, the fairies scattered the treasure from them. This is where the leprechauns come in and they were tasked with guarding the treasure, thus the pot of gold we’re always chasing after! They’re forever moving it.