The Irish Dracula

During famine times there were also accounts of cannibalism such was desperation of starving people. In fact there was a particularly ghoulish practice that frequently occurred. Blood would have been sucked from dead or in some cases nearly dead bodies. Charlotte also told her son stories of dreadful cholera epidemic that nearly wiped Sligo off map in 1830s. Some sufferers were buried alive in case they spread illness. Also, though it may not be a well-known fact Dracula was not first vampire novel but second. Another Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu wrote a vampire novel Carmilla (1871) which preceded Stoker’s work and which he was bound to have read. Then there was influence of torrent of contemporary novels of a similar genre. Throughout 1880s and 1890s many writers like Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G Wells wrote sensationalist novels about supernatural, and no doubt these influenced Stoker. Another theory says that writer himself admitted that after a meal of dressed crab in a fashionable restaurant in London on March 8th 1890 Stoker had a vivid nightmare about blood-sucking creatures and this spurred him to write Dracula.

Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker

Though these factors were influences on Stoker and vampire idea, some sources hold that Stoker’s horror story had its real roots in Irish mythology. Though not widely advertised, vampire story has been part of Irish mythology for millennia. The Sidhe or fairy people were a powerful, supernatural race who lived in a parallel world in which they walked amongst living. Also, some of these fairy people were obliged to drink blood, human or animal to survive. Could this be where Stoker got his idea from? And what’s more, where did Stoker really get title of his novel? Folklorist Owen Harding believes origin of word Dracula may be from Irish language.The Irish word dreach-fhoula (pronounced fracula) means bad or tainted blood. The expression is believed to refer to blood feuds between people or families. However, there is an earlier legend associated with it. There is a site which is called Dun Dreach-Fhoula or Castle of tainted blood. This was apparently a fortress guarding a lonely pass in Macgillycuddy Reeks Mountains in Co. Kerry in southern Ireland. It was, and still is, reputedly inhabited by blood-drinking, shape shifting fairies. Then there is Abhartach. The Abhartach (pronounced avertack) is Irish for dwarf, and also refers to an early Irish legend.

 

 

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