While cultures throughout Europe have similar stories of forest-dwelling elves or household mischief makers, Ireland boasts an entire litany of creatures. Some of them (Irish leprechauns, fairies, and screaming banshees) are as familiar to modern audiences today as any Disney tale.
However, dig deeper into Irish folklore and you'lll find even more exotic characters and creatures. These include the alluring kelpie who usually appears in the shape of horse, tempting women to ride off with him -- to their doom.
Natural mischief-makers, the pooka often
took the form of a black horse, goat, or dog.
Pookas were another race of mischief-causing creatures who wreaked havoc on both land and sea. If a cattle fence mysteriously fell or there was tragic news of a shipwreck off the coast, the pooka usually became the prime suspsect. Talented shape-shifters, pookas often took the guise of a black horse, goat or a dog.
Another more familiar tale of the headless horseman, The Dullahan is actually of Irish descent. The story harks back to the Irish monster who was infamous for throwing a bucket of blood on his victims as he passed, a tale that later evolved to include decapitation!
Even more lurid, the Erin isle is also the birthplace of the Dearg-due who was said to have risen from her grave each year to suck the blood of any unsuspecting man. Today, she is also infamous for figuring (with apologies to Transylvania) in history's earliest recorded vampire tale.
Just up ahead, learn more in our survey of the Web's richest resources for the retelling of Irish tales and legends. The Gaelic names may be strange at first, but the mythical stories (or are they?) will capture you in the end ....