Thursday, September 2, 2010
The Irish Dullahan (also Gan Ceann.) is a type of unseelie fairie. He is a soul collector who roams the countryside during midnight on certain Irish festive days. He is dressed in a long black cloak and is headless, usually seen riding a black horse and carrying his head under one arm. The head's eyes are massive and constantly dart about like flies, while the mouth is constantly in a hideous grin that touches both sides of the head. In some of the stories his horse has a head too. Its head is longer than its body by 6 yards and has flaming eyes and short ears.
The flesh of the head is said to have the colour and consistency of moldy cheese.He has a large mouth filled with razor sharp teeth filed to a point. The Dullahan's whip is actually a human corpse's spine, and the wagons they sometimes use are black horse drawn hearses. When the Dullahan stops riding, it is where a person is due to die. The Dullahan calls out their name, at which point they immediately perish.
There is no way to bar the road against a Dullahan, all locks and gates open on their own when it approaches. Also, they do not appreciate being watched while on their errands, throwing a basin of blood on those who dare to do so (often a mark that they are among the next to die), or even lashing out the watchers' eyes with their whips. Nonetheless, they are frightened of gold, and even a single gold pin can drive a Dullahan away.
The Dullahan may have been the inspiration for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
W. J. Fitzpatrick, a famous storyteller claims to have seen a Dullahan. He recounts:
I seen the Dullahan myself, stopping on the brow of the hill between Bryansford and Moneyscalp late one evening, just as the sun was setting. It was completely headless but it held up its own head in its hand and I heard it call out a name. I put my hand across my ears in case the name was my own, so I couldn't hear what it said. When I looked again, it was gone. But shortly afterwards, there was a bad car accident on that very hill and a young man was killed. It had been his name that the Dullahan was calling.
In other legends he sides with the legendary ghost, the Banshee, and they drive a black cart (called the Coiste Bodhar) drawn by six black horses and whips them with his whip made of a human spinal cord . (which he sometimes has on his own which he whips the eyes out of the mortals foolish enough to spy on him during his nightly runs, for he hates those with sharp eyesight.) The only fear it has is gold, which any lonely traveller at night would be wise to have to ward off him off.
Some people believe that the Dullahan is the embodied spirit of a celtic god, Crom Dubh, who demanded human sacrifices each year. The worship of Crom Dubh continued in Ireland until the sixth century, when Christian missionaries arrived from Scotland. However, Crom Dubh still wanting souls became the Dullahan or far dorocha (Which translates into Dark Man.)
The Dullahan serves no master but death.