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 The Dullahan - Ireland’s horrifying Headless Horseman

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Faerielass
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PostSubject: The Dullahan - Ireland’s horrifying Headless Horseman   Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:28 pm




The sinister story of the headless horseman is a mythical legend that has had its tale told for centuries – but did you know that this story is Celtic in origin?


Yes, though there are many variations of the tale, the truth is that legend of the headless horseman came from Ireland.

It is said that around midnight on certain Irish feast days the Dullahan or Gan Ceann (Headless) would appear riding a black horse with flaming red eyes, ready to take the souls of those about to die.

As suggested by its name, the horseman had no head upon his shoulders but carried it in his right arm. In some stories his head has been replaced by a pumpkin to suit the horrors of Halloween.The head of the horseman would be decaying with a hideous grin splitting the face from ear-to-ear. A truly, terrifying sight - a lot like 4am outside Coppers on a Saturday night.

Some say that the Dullahan used a human spine as a whip and would take your eyes out if you managed to catch a glimpse of him!

Though it is not very clear where the Dullahan itself originated, he is thought to be the embodiment of an ancient Celtic god, Crom Dubh, or Black Crom. One things for for sure, his mother never described him as having a 'good head on his shoulders.'

Crom Dubh was worshipped in Ireland in the sixth century. He demanded human lives each year, with his most favoured method of sacrifice being decapitation. The Ancient Celts believed that the soul was in the head and so it’s fitting to have such a sinister character headless.

But is there any defence against Death’s herald, the Dullahan? Yes, that is if you could afford to carry around copious amounts precious metal while on a midnight stroll… For some unknown reason, the horseman had a fear of gold or artefacts of wealth as this short story recounts:

A man was on his way home one night between Roundstone and Ballyconneely. It was just getting dark and, all of a sudden, he heard the sound of horse's hooves pounding along the road behind him. Looking around, he saw the dullahan on his charger, hurtling towards him at a fair speed.

With a loud shout, he made to run but the thing came on after him, gaining on him all the time. In truth, it would have overtaken him and carried him away had he not dropped a gold-headed pin from the folds of his shirt on the road behind him. There was a roar in the air above him and, when he looked again, the dullahan was gone.

- Dullahan

Though the Celtic legend was particularly strong in parts of Connacht and Ulster, the Dullahan has made his way into literature, folk tales and modern day entertainment across the world – real or not, he is legend.
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