17 March 2010

Vampires in Ireland

What is Saint Patrick's Day without the mention of a leprechaun? These little, red-headed creatures are vicious mischief-makers, and, although we have that in common, I know little more about the leprechaun than what you can find in Wikipedia, if you commit the obligatory Saint Patrick's Day search.

So, instead of speaking about miserly sprites who dress in green (or red depending on the date of your book), I write about the more mysterious and more beautiful Dearg-Dul.

"Throughout the islands of the United Kingdom, particularly Ireland and the Isle of Man, there are countless tales of ghosts, spirits, and faerie folk", but Ireland is also the home of "the deadly Dearg-Dul. This ancient vampire's name, 'red blood sucker,' reveals its nature" to all who are wary. "Legends disagree as to whether the Dearg-Dul is a revenant or a kind of eternal faerie." Certainly, he "does not appear as moldering corpse, though [he] does sleep in graves" (Maberry 94-5).

"The Dearg-Dul is not a hideous monster, and in fact most stories agree that both the male and female Dearg-Dul appear as beautiful and sexually appealing figures whose charismatic aura is utterly compelling. They use their irresistible charms to lure potential victims to trysting places--where they attack and kill them." Into a stupor, they lull their victim through the use of spells, but they also possess supernatural strength. "The Celtic druids have battled these creatures for a thousand years and have devised a number of clever ways of defeating them. The most common way is to locate the grave of a suspected Dearg-Dul and then erect a heavy cairn of stones over it, sealing the stones with prayers and placing sprigs of holly between the rocks." The holly zaps their strength so that they are unable to break their rock prison. "Trapped in their graves, the vampires will eventually degenerate into dust." Yet, according to another legend, "should the stone ever be removed the vampire would walk the earth again" (Russo 38).

The Dearg-Dul is also a skilled trapper. Though both male and female variants exist in legend, the female is more cunning and more vicious. She "holds her victim captive, drains every ounce of his blood, boils it in a crimson cauldron in which she brews her special magic, and makes potions for herself that imbue her with her eternal and ageless beauty" (Maberry 96).

One enchantress (Dearg-Dul/Dearg-Due) "makes an unholy pact with a mortal man" to serve as his creative muse in exchange for eternal love. The pact is made, and the creature imprisons her lover in an underwater palace. Great songs and works of literature flow from his pen, infused with her inspiration, but no one will ever read them. The creature "drains her constant lover of all energy and vitality", taking his life-essence instead of love and "revealing this member of the species to be a kind of essential vampire." Without a tear of farewell, she casts his withered corpse to the side and hunts again for a new "eternal love" (Maberry 95).

Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings…
Russo, Arlene. Vampire Nation.

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