Sure, blame the little people. While Leprechauns are considered full of mischief and slightly grumpy, they're not necessarily evil.
But my guests today do dwell on the darker side of the Green Isle.
Could it be they aren't happy with St. Patrick?
The man we celebrate today is credited with banishing all the snakes from Ireland - which is really a fancy way of saying, he forced the Pagans to convert to Christianity or be exiled. There are a few theories that lay claim to the fact
he may have caused 800 Druids to be killed, including two Druids Princesses, who died immediately after they were baptized by Patrick.
But I couldn't find any real concrete proof.
But we're not here to talk about that.
Slide over a stool, pour yourself a pint and let me introduce you to:
DULLAHAN, which translates to 'dark man" and reminds me of one of my favorite characters, the Headless Horseman from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The Dullahan, carries his head in his left hand, high up in the air, which enables him to see for miles and sniff out the spot where someone is about to die. Riding his black steed and carrying a human spine as a whip, he'll arrive at the house or spot that someone will soon be departing and call his/her name. If you happen to hear his call, but aren't in the house of the dying, don't let Dullahan see you, he'll reward you for your nosiness by tossing a bowl of blood in your face. Where he keeps this gory accessory while riding a horse and hands full, I couldn't say. But I'll take his word for it.
Please welcome, the BANSHEE (woman of the fairy mound). Occasionally, Dullahan and Banshee decide to have a date night and are seen together, a terrifying sight, she riding next to him in a black cart pulled by six black steeds. Usually on her own, though, she can appear as a ugly hag or beautiful young woman, but either way she has long, wild unruly hair, often red or orange that 'shimmers like wild fire."
While Dullhan summons the dead, the Banshee warns of death with three blood curdling wails. There's a saying: If you hear the Banshee you're considered special. Some meet her at eighteen, some at 54. Let hope we never hear her at all...
Finally, that group of haggard, bone thin souls with bat like wings hugged to their body, keeping to themselves in the corner are the SLAUGH, aka The Dead Irish Sinners or the Underfolk. The Slaugh swarm in from the west looking to enter the dwelling of a dying person, in order to steal their soul. After Christianity arrived in Ireland, it was imperative that they grab the soul before the Last Rites were administered. They definitely were not a fan of St. Patrick. To this day, people in Ireland shut and cover all their windows facing the west, when someone is dying.
There are many more fascinating demon myths in Irish folklore, but I'm running low on Guinness (who knew Celtic demons liked to drink?) and had to keep the guest list to a minimum. I'll be more prepared next year on St. Patrick's Day!
Irish saying of the day:
“May the enemies of Ireland never eat bread nor drink whiskey, but be afflicted with itching
without the benefit of scratching.”
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!