Guest Author - Mary Ellen Sweeney
Every culture has their share of superstitions, but the sheer volume of Irish folklore has launched the belief that we're a superstitious people. What can I say...but "Mind yourself!"
It's not hard to see how the imagination could take flight on dark nights in the Irish countryside. Til this day, streetlights are for the cities and towns, and remote villages rely on the light of the moon, stars, and the neighbors' windows for illumination. Or is it imagination???
Long before scholars came to write and record the stories of Ireland, they daring exploits of brave men and women (or otherwise) were committed to memory and preserved in the minds of the Seanachai, the story-teller caste. The most skilled could recite stories that took two or more hours to tell, a splendid way to spend a long winter evening in good company. Handed down from father to son, some Seanachai had a library of over 300 stories, told over and over without changing so much as a syllable. This is a powerful oral tradition.
Ever since I can remember, I've known about the banshee. The banshee announces an impending death with her sorrowful wailing outside the house in the darkness of night. Sometimes all within can hear the banshee, sometimes only the dearest one to the nearly departed.
For more see Banshee
And then there's the terrible story of The Irish Werewolf. This is a sad story, and serves as a potent reminder not to allow the powerful to get *too* powerful, even if they are real saints.
For some great stories by Irish story-teller, Richard Marsh, go here: