10 Irish MONSTERS that will give you NIGHTMARES

Ireland’s folklore often tells of brave warriors. But for every hero, there must be a villain. Here is our list of ten Irish monsters that will give you nightmares.

10 Irish MONSTERS that will give you NIGHTMARES.

For many, the extent of their knowledge of the creatures of Irish lore might cover the cheery, mischievous leprechaun and his pot of gold. But there is a darker side to the folklore of the Emerald Isle.

Some have informed popular culture worldwide by appearing in works of film and literature. Others – perhaps deemed too terrifying – seem confined to the legends of the island.

They all have one thing in common, however: they will give you nightmares. Read on if you dare.

10. The Oilliphéist – an Irish water serpent

The Irish water serpent.
Credit: pixabay.com

The Oilliphéist were a type of water serpent that inhabited the darkest depths of Ireland’s rivers and lakes.

Accounts of the Oilliphéist vary. Some say that Saint Patrick drove them out along with the snakes; others claim that some still exist.

9. Ellén Trechend – the three-headed beast

Ellen Trechend is one of the Irish monsters you won't forget.
Credit: pxfuel.com

According to the early Middle Irish tale Cath Maige Mucrama (Battle of Mag Mucrama), Ellén Trechend was a three-headed monster who dwelled in Cruachan – a cave in County Roscommon.

Patrick Weston Joyce wrote in A Smaller History of Ancient Ireland that Ellén Trechend took the form of a vulture and led a group of horrible goblins. This crowd wreaked chaos in Ireland until Ulaid hero Amergin slew it.

8. The Sluagh – the unforgiven dead

The unforgiven dead.
Credit: Flickr/ Lawrence OP

The Sluagh are the unforgiven dead who are unwelcome in both heaven and hell. Instead, they were left to roam the lands of the mortal.

They are vengeful spirits who seek revenge for an unjust death. Able to fly, they would pick off the souls of anyone they encountered and transport them far away. The Sluagh will definitely give you nightmares.

7. Dobhar-chú – the king otter

The King otter.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

Dobhar-chú was a creature that resembled both an otter and a dog. It lived in Glenade Lough in County Leitrim.

Legend has it that, in 1772, Dobhar-chú bloodily murdered Creevelea native Grace McGloighlin while she washed clothes in the lough. Upon finding her body, her husband Terrence sought revenge and killed the Dobhar-chú and a second monster.

6. Bánánach – goat-like soul collectors

Goat-like soul collectors.
Credit: hippopx.com

The Bánánach are supernatural beings said to haunt battlefields. These demons are sometimes depicted as goat-like and have connotations of death and violence.

Like the Sluagh, they are unable to enter heaven, and so wander the earth aimlessly.

They supposedly float above dying soldiers on battlefields, patiently awaiting the soldier’s last breath in order to gather their soul for the devil. Terrifying.

5. The Abhartach – Ireland’s vampire

Ireland's vampire.
Credit: picryl.com

According to Patrick Weston Joyce in his 1870 book The Origin and History of Irish Names and Places, the Abhartach was an undead dwarf who plagued the people of Derry.

Other accounts of the story claim that the Abhartach would rise from the grave to drink the blood of his victims, hence the comparison to the vampire.

Historian Bob Curran argues that Dublin author Bram Stoker drew inspiration from the tale of the Abhartach for his gothic masterpiece, Dracula.

4. Dearg-Due – another blood-sucking demon

One of the Irish monsters who will give you nightmares.
Credit: pixabay

Another Irish equivalent to the vampire, Dearg-Due is a female demon that sucks the blood of her male victims. The story goes that she fell in love with a peasant, but her father forced her to marry a rich chieftain.

She dies by suicide in order to escape her husband’s abuse but rises from the dead to enact her revenge.

3. The Dullahan – the headless horseman

The headless horseman.
Credit: lookandlearn.com

Washington Irving’s short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which formed the basis for the 1999 film Sleepy Hollow, tells the story of the headless horseman.

Many believe that Irving drew inspiration from a trip to Europe, as this character is a staple of Northern European mythology.

The Irish equivalent is the Dullahan. Using a whip made from a human skeleton, the Dullahan drives the Death Coach to visit people whose death is imminent.

2. Balor – leader of the Fomorians

Balor is a giant.
Credit: pixabay

Balor is a giant and the legendary leader of the Fomorians – a group of malevolent supernatural beings in Irish mythology.

According to legend, Balor learned of a prophecy that his grandson would kill him. To offset this, he locked his daughter, Eithne, in a tower to prevent her from ever becoming pregnant.

However, seeking revenge for a stolen cow, Cian mac Cáinte infiltrates the tower and impregnates Eithne. She gives birth to three sons, whose deaths Balor orders. However, unbeknownst to him, one survives and eventually slays the giant.

The story also tells of Balor’s large evil eye that would wreak havoc and destruction when opened.

1. The banshee – one of the most well-known Irish monsters

The Banshee is one of the best-known Irish monsters.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Brought to recent prominence by Martin McDonagh’s film The Banshees of Inisherin, the banshee is one of the most well-known Irish monsters.

Banshees are commonly depicted as female characters, and their appearance is said to herald the death of a relative.

Irish legend tells that one will hear the keen (wail) of a banshee when a family member died. If a relative died in another part of the country or world, hearing the banshee’s keen was the first news of this death.

We’re sure that these Irish monsters that will give you nightmares demonstrate the existence of a much darker side to the folklore of Ireland. We hope you can sleep tonight.

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