Ireland is laden with tall tales, ancient myths, and spell-binding folklore. It is a land of magic and enchantment, deeply rooted in tradition and customs.
Throughout centuries, Irish mythological creatures have peppered the stories passed on from generation to generation.
Whether you’re a writer looking for inspiration for your fiction, a lover of myths and folklore, or someone who’s just curious, you’ll find plenty of interesting beasts in this A-Z list of Irish mythological creatures.
Ireland Before You Die’s insights to mythological creatures
- In Irish mythology, the leprechaun is a mischievous fairy often depicted as a tiny old man who guards a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
- Did you know the banshee, a female spirit, is believed to wail and lament when someone is about to die, serving as a harbinger of death?
- From Irish folklore, a headless horseman, the Dullahan, carries his own decapitated head and is a harbinger of death.
- The merrow is a mermaid-like creature in Irish mythology that possesses a fishtail and a beautiful singing voice.
This mythological creature was considered to be one of the Tuatha Dé Danann—a mythical Irish race who possessed supernatural powers.
Like Abarta, Abcán was a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He was depicted as a dwarf poet and musician.
Abhartach was another dwarf immortalised in Irish legend.
This Irish mythological creature was considered a guardian over the powerful Irish mortal clan, the Dál gCais.
This is the collective term for the supernatural fairy race in Ireland. They’re generally said to live in fairy mounds and frequent enchanting woodlands.
In early folklore, the bánánach were otherworldly beings that haunted battlefields.
This female spirit in Irish folklore heralds the death of a family member by wailing at nightfall.
This mythological creature in Irish folklore is the equivalent of a boogeyman.
According to ancient Irish folklore, a Caoránach is the mother of demons and deathly spirits.
This mythological creature is seen mainly in Scottish folklore, although does make an appearance in Irish. It is a fairy creature said to often resemble a black cat.
This mythical creature is present in Irish folklore, as well as tales throughout Europe. The story tells of a fairy child who has been swapped with a human baby.
Clíodhna is, in Irish folklore, the Queen of the Banshees. In some tales, she is also the goddess of love and beauty.
This Irish mythological creature is a mischevious fairy. In tales, he tends to enjoy alcohol a bit too much and is often depicted heisting breweries in search of liquor!
Prior to Christianity in Ireland, Crom Cruach was, according to ancient Irish folklore, a god.
This mythological hound can be seen across Irish and Scottish folklore.
This is a collective term used to describe fairies in Ireland. Daoine maithe means “good people”.
This deadly Irish mythological creature can be found widely in Irish folklore. The half-dog, half-otter is a land- and water-dwelling creature that feasts on human flesh.
Donn Cúailnge is a bull that features in Irish ancient folklore.
The Dullahan is one of the most famous myths and legends in Irish folklore. The term refers to a sort of headless mythic creature.
In Irish mythology, Ellén Trechend is a three-headed beast.
According to ancient Irish myth, Enbarr was a mythological horse who could take to both land and water.
Failinis was an unstoppable hound who fought in battles, according to Irish legend.
Fairies are seen heavily through Irish folklore. Generally, they are broken into two categories. Seelie fairies are ones which are generally happy and helpful, Unseelie fairies have darker agendas and can be mischievous and troublesome.
Seen across Celtic folklore, the Fairy Queen was the ruler of all fairies.
Far darrig is a type of fairy. The term means “red man” and this fairy is usually depicted in solitude.
According to Irish folklore, this spirit is the starvation and it appears as a dying, emaciated human body.
In Irish folklore, a fetch is essentially a doppelgänger, when living people see an apparition of themselves. This usually heralds death.
This mythological creature appears in text as bull owned by King Ailill of Connacht.
The Fomorians are another supernatural race in Irish mythology. They are depicted as hostile and come from the sea or from underground dwellings.
The word quite literally translates to “hate”. Fuath are deadly creatures who inhabit the sea and other waterways.
This male fairy is known in Irish mythology for seducing women.
According to folklore, this Irish mythological creature appears as half beautiful woman, half goat.
In old folk tales, Glas Gaibhnenn was a virile cow who produced endless bounty.
As far as folk tales go a joint-eater is an invisible fairy who sits alongside someone and eats half their food.
This term refers to the Irish fairy lover who takes a human lover.
A leprechaun is perhaps the commonly known Irish mythological creature. It is a type of fairy in folklore and leprechauns are generally depicted as solitary creatures in green garb. They are also known to be shoemakers who hide pots of gold at the end of rainbows.
Liath Macha and Dub Sainglend
In ancient Irish folklore, Liath Macha and Dub Sainglend are two chariot horses.
According to Irish myth, Merrow refers to a mermaid or merman.
This refers to a supernatural creature that is said to inhabit the lakes of Killarney in County Kerry. Contrary to other entries on this list, Muckie did not originate in folklore but in the 21st century.
According to Irish myth, Oilliphéist is a dragon-like monster.
This ancient tale can be seen across Europe, but it was particularly prevalent in Dublin in the 19th century. The tale tells of a woman with a human body but the head of a pig.
This Irish mythological creature is said to bring both good and bad fortune. It can change appearance to resemble anything it desires (a human, dog, cat).
According to ancient folk tales, Sluagh are restless spirits of the dead!
Werewolves of Ossory
Tales of the Werewolves of Ossory date back generations, and they can usually be seen as descendants of Laignech Fáelad, a legendary figure.
There are countless stories of a spirit lady dressed in white across ancient Irish text. It is usually said that she lost her husband and roams the earth in search of her beloved.
Your questions answered about Irish mythological creatures
What are the Irish mythical creatures from the sea?
Irish mythical creatures from the sea include the merrow (mermaids), selkies (seal-people), and the kelpie (a water spirit often depicted as a horse).
What is the oldest Irish mythology?
The oldest Irish mythology can be traced back to the ancient Celtic period, particularly the mythology of the Tuatha Dé Danann, which predates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
Do the Irish have dragons?
Dragons do not have a prominent role in traditional Irish mythology.