Tales of Pooka

Lest you think that Pooka is just another myth from Irish history – think again! The Pooka exists in contemporary Ireland also. For example it has a strong resonance with events of recent past, and not just symbolically either. Remember the Pooka is always around just before disaster. Cork born folklorist Thomas Crofton Croker in Fairy Legends and Traditions (1825) alleges that Pooka does appear as a real flesh and blood person. Apparently, Pooka in a human guise approaches someone, inveigles its way into their company and subsequently predicts unfortunate events that would befall them. Of course, when adversity does strike, this entity is never around. Hidden in its supernatural realm, it revels in joy of watching humans enduring effects of catastrophic events.

For example, consider this report recorded by folklorist Owen Harding in July, 2011.

“On Wednesday, 1st November, 2006, about 7.30pm, Denis O’Rourke, a business man and investor (originally from Cork city but then living in Malahide, County Dublin), believes he met Pooka. A strange and well-dressed man was outside of front gate of Denis’s home. This man struck up a conversation with Denis, claiming he had known him for years. He went on to tell Denis about his family – true facts he could not have known, going back three generations, and how over years they had lost and gained money. This man, who did not give a name, also said that family finances were based on more than just heritage, they were also subject to greater economy of a nation. Over next couple of years O’Rourke witnessed not merely fiscal fall of country, but his own financial ruin, including his business, his family home and two other houses he had invested in.”

Harding alleges that there are many similar reports, and possibly many more from others who are too embarrassed to reveal them. The problem, Harding claims, is that many people are not aware that anything unusual has happened until after Pooka has left. Not only that, but when disaster does happen, Pooka, like T.S. Eliott’s elusive cat Macavity,* “is not there”!

*Macavity is celebrated in a poem by Eliot as Mystery Cat; musical Cats is based on poem.

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