The Dullahan

This week we will take a look at an all familiar tale. The Dullahan is Ireland’s very own Headless Horseman.

The horseman is usually depicted as a male but some stories have been passed down showing the rider as a woman. In true Headless Rider fashion, the head is always carried beneath the arm and it shows a constant grin which stretches from ear to ear. The Dullahan is believed to use the spine of a human corpse for a whip and its wagon is adorned with various funeral objects.

Many tales tell of the sound of hooves in the countryside followed by an eerie, sinister laugh and even on the darkest of nights it is said that the rider can see you from afar. In ancient Irish folklore it is said that where the Dullahan stops riding, a person dies. The soul of the person is drawn from their body when the Dullahan calls their name!

One tale from Galway tells of a man walking a lonely road where the only sound he could hear was the sound of horses hooves. The man ran in terror and as he fled, he dropped a gold coin on the road. After the sound of a loud roar, the man turned to look behind him to see that he was alone again. This story gave birth to the legend of the Dullahan’s fear of the precious metal.

It is not known for certain where the Dullahan originated but it is thought that he is the embodiment of the Celtic fertility god, Crom Dubh, who was worshipped in ancient Ireland. This worship came to a halt when Christianity came to Ireland and it is then believed that the Crom Dubh took the physical form of The Headless Dullahan.