As you may have heard, ADC College is now extending the Internship Programme to Dublin! Did you know that Ireland is actually one of the main filming sites of the popular TV-series Game of Thrones? Unsurprisingly perhaps, with its spectacular landscapes and snot-green sea (as James Joyce once wrote), the Emerald Isle has also inspired a great deal of mythological tales of its own. Meet some of its most famous figures, from a wailing woman who can predict the deaths of the future to a patch of grass that will make your stomach rumble...
Perhaps you have heard of the punk band Siouxie and The Banshees? The name is apt as the Banshee, according to Irish mythology, is a wailing woman whose cry predicts the death of a family member - pretty punk, eh? The Banshee, which means fairy mound or fairy woman in Irish, is described as an old woman (although she can appear young and beautiful if she chooses) with long, unkempt hair that shimmers like fire, usually clad in red or green. Her characteristic wail, according to legend, can only be heard by those of pure Irish blood, whose surname is prefixed by O' or Mac'. If a group of Banshees happen to appear, it signals the death of someone high-standing or holy.
The myth seems to have its roots in the mourning tradition of keening, where women would lament the death of a loved one by weeping and wailing. In some instances the keening woman would be a professional, hired for the occasion.
Like the Leprechaun, the Clurichaun is an Irish elf who enjoys life, sometimes described as the "night version" of its more famous folklore twin. In his work Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, the famous poet W. B. Yeats calls Clurichauns "bad dressers" who are “most sluttish, slouching, jeering, mischievous phantoms”. The folklorist Nicholas O'Kearney seems to adhere to this view, although with less vulgar phrasing, writing that the Clurichaun is a jolly and red-faced little fellow who is likely to be found drunk in a wine cellar, "singing away merrily". In fact, the Clurichaun is always drunk and if you treat him nicely, he will protect your wine cellar. If neglected, however, the Clurichaun will turn your house upside down and spoil the booze. According to legend, he also enjoys a nightly ride on top of a sheep or dog now and again.
Game of Thrones' Daenerys Targaryen – or Dany as she is also known as – might have a folklore namesake in the ancestral figure of the mother goddess of Ireland, Danu. In fact, the legend of Danu is so old that there are no surviving texts to tell her story. But she is thought to be the protectress of the people and of the first tribe that settled in Ireland, known as Tuatha de Dannan. Her name means "to run, to flow" and the rivers Danube, Dniestr, Don and Dniper are named after her. She is also associated with fertility, abundance and agriculture and some legends say that when the Tuatha de Dannan first arrived in Ireland, Danu blocked out the sun for three days and a mist appeared. The tribe then burnt their ships as a symbolic gesture to Danu that they intended to stay.
4. Leanan Sidhe
The poet W.B. Yeats describes Leanan Sidhe as a malignant muse who seeks the love of a mortal, granting him artistic inspiration, only to suck the life out of him and drive him mad. Some, however, describe the contract between the artist and Leanan Sidhe a little differently. In exchange for genius, the artist is asked to love intensely and thereby lives a shorter, yet fulfilling and inspired life that ends when Leanan Sidhe decides to leave. Her name means 'lover' or 'sweetheart', whereas Sidhe is the Irish word for 'mound'. In order to prevent the beautiful fairy mistress from rising, one must put a stack of stones over her resting place.
5. Fear Gorta or "hungry grass"
Fear Gorta means "man of hunger" in Irish and is a starved phantom who begs for food and brings fortune to those who are kind enough to help him. It is said that he brought about the Great Irish famine of the 1840s, where bad potato crops lead to the death of one million people and saw another million emigrate from Ireland. In that story, Fear Gorta arises from a patch of hungry grass, which in Irish mythology is an area of grass cursed by the proximity of an unshriven corpse or, perhaps - as another story goes - planted by faeries. If you step on hungry grass, you will become immediately hungry and that is why the legend advises you to always carry a sandwich or snack on your travels, as well as beer.
ADC College organises Internship and Teacher Development Programmes in London and Dublin, eligible for funding from Erasmus+. Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.