Before Christianity, Ireland was a country fully saturated in mythology. Today, béaloideas (folklore) is preserved by oral tradition. Parents have entranced their children for generations with gripping tales and vivid descriptions of the mythological creatures of ancient Ireland. They continue to do so today. Here at Mallon Ireland, we’ve compiled a list of the most prominent mythological creatures of Irish folklore.
A banshee, or in Irish a Bean Sidhe, is a woman of the fairies. She always has long, unkempt hair that shimmers like fire, and is usually clad in red or green. It is said that if you hear her wailing, or keening in the silence of the night, a family member of yours will pass away soon, however she only visits people of pure Irish descent. The cry of this spirit is mournful beyond all other sounds on earth. It has been said that her shriek could shatter glass.
A relative of the leprechaun, the clurichaun is known for his great love of drinking and a tendency to haunt breweries, pubs and wine cellars. He is described as a tiny man, measuring six inches in height. His face is like a withered apple, his eyes twinkle and he has a nose that is red and purple from heavy drinking. He wears a red nightcap, a short leather apron, light blue stockings, and shoes with large silver buckles.
Danu is the hypothetical mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann, a supernatural race in Ancient Irish mythology. One story has said that when the Tuatha Dé Dannan first arrived in Ireland, Danu blocked out the sun for three days and a mist appeared. It is thought that she is possibly a goddess of fertility, of wisdom, and of wind but it isn’t entirely clear.
Leanan Sibh is depicted as a beautiful fairy woman who is in search of a human lover. If they refuse, she must be their slave. If they consent, they are hers, and can only escape by finding another to take their place. The supernatural love story is usually short lived though, it often leads to madness and eventual death for the male.
Ireland is a country that has folklore and enchantment coursing through it’s very veins. The mythological creatures of ancient Ireland are deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the country, kept alive through oral tradition and hand-me-down rumours and tales.