For St. Patrick’s Day I decided on my usual weird spin on the holiday. So this week it will be the vampires of Irish folklore. As with many Irish mythological figures the vampire is inter-connected with fairies. Among the Irish the fairy is often intertwined with ghosts, witches, nature spirits and on occasion the vampire. Even two of the greatest vampire stories ever conceived were written by two Irish men. Sheridan Le Fanu wrote the seminal “Carmilla” and Bram Stoker created “Dracula”. I would assume that many elements of Irish vampire lore made their way into both novels. One of the most famous Irish vampires is the Dearge Due which translates to “red blood sucker”. This fiend can be traced further back then the Celts and early Celtic times. In this case the vampire can be stopped by piling on vast amounts of heavy stones on it’s grave, thus s6topping it. One famous tale of the Dearge Due consists of a beautiful woman whom I assume is also the undead, being buried in a churchyard near a tree know as Strongbow’s tree. This churchyard is said to be near the homes of Stoker and Le Fanu and is a popular tourist site for the vampire enthusiast. The “fairy mistress” known as the Leanhaum-shee (shee meaning fairy) was considered a destructive vampire fairy whose feminine charms could seduce and then destroy a healthy young man. The only way to break her devilish charms was to find her another young man to seduce allowing the first young man to escape her clutches. It is quite possible that many of the Irish and Celtic lady vampires got their start as ancient goddesses of war who were described as having a bloody thirsty nature. As the belief in gods and goddess dwindled away they were replaced with the idea of blood thirsty ghosts and demons haunting the land on long dark
nights. The proverbial banshee is likely a relic of an older goddess connected to disease and death. And so it goes.