Vampires of Ireland
There aren't nearly as many vampire-type myths in Irish folklore compared with those of other superstitious cultures. But there are a few prominent instances where the depraved demonic creatures appear. The most frequent is that of the Dearg-due
, or Red Blood Sucker, whose most famous alleged is buried near Strongbow's Tree in Co. Waterford. She was purportedly a female of indescribable beauty who died in mysterious circumstances but rose from her grave a few times a year to wreck havoc on the men of surrounding villages. She seduced her victims by dancing until the men were stupified then she would feed on their blood. In Scotland, the vampire legend was called baobhan sith
, and lurked in the mountains.
Another Irish vampire legend is Dreach-Fhoula
(possibly also seen as Dreach-Shoula
): Pronounced "droc-'ola" and means 'bad' or 'tainted blood' and while it is widely believed to refer to 'blood feuds' between persons or families, it may have a far older history.
During a lecture in 1961, the head of the Irish Folklore Commission
, Sean O'Suilleabhain, spoke of a site which he called Dun Dreach-Fhoula
or Castle of the Blood Visage. This was supposedly a fortress guarding a lonely pass in the Magillycuddy Reeks in Kerry
, and inhabited by blood-drinking shape-shifting fairies. He did not give its exact location for the castle, and cultural historians have spent years rifling thru archives for more specific information.
It might well have been the inspiration for the name Dracula rather than Vlad Dracul
. Bram Stoker
, after all, never visited Eastern Europe and relied entirely on travelers' accounts.
Abhartach is only one among a few blood-drinking noble and chieftains that populate Irish folklore; and the blood-drinking undead appear briefly in Geoffrey Keating's History of Ireland
, written in 1631. Stoker may well have read the legend of Abhartach in another History of Ireland, written by Patrick Weston Joyce
and published in 1880. Around the same time, the original copies of Keating's work were on display in the National Museum in Dublin
. Stoker probably brought together the myths of Abhartach and that of the Dun Dreach-Fhoula
and somehow amagamated it with common vampire mythology.