To get you in the spirit, we thought we’d share with you a few local folklore legends that reflect the spookiness of Halloween. Our Halloween, after all, has its gnarled old roots in the rich historic traditions of Samhain.

Here are three Halloween beings you might encounter when the veil is thinnest at this time of year in the Wild West of Ireland…

The Banshee

Known for her loud and incessant wailing as she washes the clothes of those about to die, the Banshee [or Bean Sidhe] is a figure of unease and fear anytime of year. During the season of Samhain, her cries can be heard more across the board than usual. Typically, it’s said she only heralds the death of ancient Irish nobility. Clans with prefixes such as “O’” or “Mac” before the rest of their surname in particular. Lingering mostly around bodies of water such as rivers or streams, it’s said that her keening produces a chill of dread when heard by the living.

River in Ireland
A good place for a Banshee to wash clothes. Photo by Wild West Irish Tours’ Alum Deborah.

The Dullahan

A popular story this time of year in American folklore seems to mirror the tales of the Dullahan. If you’re familiar with the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, you might find parallels with this figure of Irish legend. Known for removing his head for optimal terror, the dark rider called the Dullahan is a herald of misfortune. He rides into town on a steed black as night and can only be deterred by objects of gold. He’s also known for horror movie things such as buckets of blood and, in one instance, a wagon made of bones. It’s said if you hear hoofbeats at night, it’s best to make haste to somewhere well-lit. And to look away from the road, lest you catch the Dullahan’s ever-watchful eye!

Irish countryside
Dark figure in the distance – could it be the Dullahan?

The Púca

Perhaps the most Samhain or Halloween-esque of them all, the shapeshifting púca originated around Samhain or harvest time. In fact, the harvest is meant to be finished by the time the sun sets on Samhain. Anything left behind is considered a crop for the púca and therefore inedible to humans. Some people even leave out specific offerings from their crops to the púca, much like a “trick or treat” scenario. After all, do some of us not offer candy to entice ghouls and goblins this time of year to leave us be?

November 1st, the púca’s own day, also allows the creature to meddle with wild fruits. The púca renders them inedible once the harvest holiday and Celtic New Year come to a close. If on the lookout for a púca this year, you might find a few in the Wild West of Ireland, especially the Burren. Though they could be anything from a hare, goat, horse, or human form- though they can’t fully shake off animal attributes like funny ears or perhaps a tail.

The Burren Ireland
The Burren just before Samhain

If this got you in the spirit of the season, be sure to share it with someone who delights in a fright!

Until next time, be well!

 

Sam Fishkind

Wild West Irish Tours

Social Media Manager & Scribe

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