Posts Tagged ‘ireland’

This post is all grown up and ready to drink!  Twenty-one posts, nearly every week, (I said nearly damn it!)  I really didn’t think I’d stick with it this long.


In honor of the completely arbitrary number of 21, drinking and booze in general, let’s go back to Ireland for another of the many fey creatures running about.  Yes I know, there seems to be no end of the buggers.  I promise you something more exotic next week, but at least for now I’ll stick with the obscure.   Let’s talk clurichauns.


Clurichauns look like a lot of the fey, at least a lot of the traditional fey, which is to say small and ugly.  Sure enough, they look like little more than old men, short and potbellied.  They often have long beards or pipes, buckles on their shoes and little fine caps, and they are always, always drunk.  I’ve been told more than once that the name translates out to ‘walking thirst’, but I haven’t ever been able to confirm that.  Essentially, all the bastards do is drink, and drink, and drink.


Some folklorists see them as the night form of the leprechaun.  That is to say that by day the hard working leprechauns cobble for elderly shoemakers, but by night they switch forms and personalities completely as they hang up their tools and go on a bender.  And although I can buy that leprechauns can occasionally let their freak flag fly, they are usually depicted as merry drunks. Mostly the clurichauns range on the surly end of the drunkard spectrum.  Think the leprechaun other leprechauns wouldn’t want to share a Guinness with and you’ve come close.  Only don’t tell a clurichaun I made such a comparison, I don’t want him pissed off that I called him a ruddy little shoemaker.


Like many of the fey, how a clurichaun treats you largely depends on how you treat it.  Make an honest deal with it, give it a shot from your flask, especially your last, and it will treat you kindly.  Treat it badly, and you might as well join the priesthood for all the fun you are going to have from that point on.  As a supernatural creature with affinity to booze, the clurichaun can do all sorts of nasty tricks.  Teleport all your booze into his stomach, spoil wine, make whiskey sprout the grains it was made from.  What’s worse, though some fey wander and some attach themselves to families, the clurichaun tends to attach himself to a specific place.  Like your wine cellar, or your favorite bar.  They stick around just like that one drunk that the kindly bartender doesn’t have the heart to kick out into the street.  They stick around for as long as they were welcome, and then some.  Or if they are angry until they drive everybody else away.  In the latter case, the fastest I’ve heard them leaving is about fifty years, and they can last longer if they set up their own still.


Now, the clurichauns will never pay for their booze exactly, but they can grant wishes to a certain extent.  They seem to know where the leprechauns keep their fairy gold, though that may be because the legends have gotten intermingled.  They can also divine for underground treasures like many other dwarfish creatures.  Of course, just because they can do something, doesn’t mean they will do it.  I have run into a couple of stories of them being bound in iron and forced to deliver on their promises for their freedom, but that seems like an almost guaranteed way to piss one off.  And even if it forgets where you live, can you imagine stumbling around Ireland with a pissed-off, drunken fairy and a few shovels?  You better pack a lunch boyo, cause it’s going to be a long treasure hunt.


Wait, I forgot to mention that in proper lush fashion, they never walk when they can hitch a ride.  They usually hitch that ride on a passing dog or sheep.  So make that a pissed-off, drunken, sheep-riding fairy.   Yeah, good luck with that trip.


If they decide they like your cellar or home, they will protect you from the same things they cause when pissed off.  No one will steal your wine, and it will never spoil.  Of course they will probably drink more than these services are worth, but since I’ve never found a good way to get rid of the things except run away and leave them to dry up, you might as well put up with them.
Or put iron fillings in their scotch if you are desperate, and a complete gods bedamned heathen.


Writing prompts:


An evil and cunning beer company trying to trick clurichauns into their rival’s breweries.


A clurichaun in a frat house.  I don’t know if this is the best idea ever, or the worst, but I’d love to see it done.


The first time a clurichaun is tricked into trying a non-alcoholic beer.





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This week’s post takes us to the Emerald Isle, home of more mythology than any little island really has a right to.

Ireland is quite simply just rife with fairies, beasties, and things that go bump in the night.  A lot of European mythology seems to have its roots and origins in Irish legends and mythological histories. Mostly because so much of Europe has stomped through the glens on their way to conquering somewhere else.

For this post I think I’ll pick one of my favorite of the long legged beasties, the pooka.  Also spelled pouka or puca, and often connected to the pcwa, pook, pwwka and even Shakespeare’s Puck.  It all gets a little confusing when different languages, and even alphabets, clash. Many of those are part time tricksters and part time helpful household sprites. It doesn’t help that most are natural shape shifters, and who really knows where one begins and the others end.

Human’s right?  Always trying to put things into a nice little category.

What I mean by pooka is a rather specific beast, usually considered one of the fey.  It’s a trickster type that love preying on travelers.  They usually take the form of an animal, goats, horses, and dogs being the most common.  Almost always hairy critters, rather than furry, and that’s actually an important distinction.  There is always something a little shaggy around the edges with pooka, disreputable fellows that they are.

Their most common trick is to wait by the road, normally in some remote woods or near old ruins. They wait for someone tired and foolish enough to try and ride them.  I mean, hitch a lift. I am not going to do a goat riding joke.  This is Ireland, not Scotland (sorry, I just can’t help myself sometimes).  Getting on the pooka is a rather simple trick, getting off again, in one piece anyway, demands some serious luck.  Once on, the pooka launches into a wild run, enjoying the terror of their victims and eventually dumping them far away from their homes.  Usually they don’t actually kill the travelers, but if the poor mortal ends up wandering into a bog or just starves to death in unfamiliar territory, too bad so sad.

They also have a few of the usual fey tricks for helping keep people lost.  They use will-o-wisps and illusions to distract, can go invisible, and once in a rare while you hear of them blinding a person by spitting in their eye. Yeah, and Jimmy Stuart drank with one of these guys.  Think about the big brass ones on that guy.

Although Harvey really didn’t have much to do with the pooka, and even my take on them is often a little more negative than the native view.  Usually the people who get picked on have to be stupid, noisy, or obnoxious to draw the pooka’s attention.  Solitary creatures, they spend most of their time alone.  They just get bored like everyone else and need a good laugh now and then.  And really, who gets on a strange horse?  Or goat?  A little common sense people.

That’s actually a fairly common theme of a lot of the Irish fey.  Once you get on their bad side you are pretty much screwed, but usually there is a reason you are on their bad side in the first place.  Unlike the ice queen’s of the Norse or some of the Greek deities, just seeing the fey isn’t enough to doom you.  It’s when you do something stupid like drink their wine, sleep with their women, or get on the damned horse that you seal your own fate.

There are always exceptions, and the mortal doesn’t always know what they did wrong in the first place.  Being ugly, or too pretty, or too loud are all perfectly accepted reasons to have some fey or another targeting your ass.

Back to the pooka themselves, and why I find them particularly interesting.  There are a lot of horse demons in this world, and some of them keep startling close to the pooka modus operandi.  There’s the sihuanaba from Central America. A lovely naked woman with long hair. Then she turns around and you see her horse head, but by then you are already dinner.  The Irish also have the kelpie, a horse that tricks people into rides only to drown them and then eat their bloated flesh.

The one I find most remarkable is the tikbalang, a Filipino horse demon that does almost the exact same thing as the pooka.  It takes the form of a horse and takes people on wild rides, many of which don’t end in death.  It uses floating lights to lead people into the woods, can turn invisible, and changes shape.  Its usual form, when not going full horse, is a horse headed man with impossibly long limbs.  The one thing Harvey got right was the pooka tendency to extreme size, making themselves either very small or very tall.  There are even mixed reports of the tikbalang protecting forests and ruins, and the way to avoid trouble with them is to be very quiet and polite.  Or turning your clothes inside out, another common practice to dispel faerie glamour in old Erin.

Two different island nations across the globe from each other, limited contact, and they both have the same creature haunting their woods.

Maybe a pooka went on a trading vessel.  Maybe it’s just a common fear of deserted places.  Maybe horses are just bloody bastards and we all know it deep down. You can’t tell me goats don’t stare right into your soul.  Still I find it fascinating, just like I find it fascinating how many horse creatures are connected with water, something I’ll probably deal with later.

There are a few stories of capturing and taming pooka.  Most of them end very badly. Family cursed for seven generations nasty.  It’s better to befriend them, something possible if one is noble of purpose and generous of spirit. That’s bard talk for share your food and booze.  Especially your booze.  This is a common element that will apply to many of the creatures I talk about in these posts.

Maybe I just like creatures that are cheap to bribe.

Writing Prompts

Another Irish beastie playing tourist.  Clurichauns in Madagascar anyone?

Names.  Are many of the little shape shifters and household spirits named similarly because they have root origins?  Or were they all out carousing together and forgot to show up at the Department of Names till they were down to the Ps?

Modern jobs for pooka.  No one rides anymore, how do you modernize old tricks?  Pooka cabbies?

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