Leanan Shee The Irish Fairies

Stories of blood-drinking or energy-sapping fairies had existed in both Scotland and Ireland since the earliest times. According to those who speak the Gaelic tongue of Scotland and Ireland, the creature prefer to be known as “sidhe” (also spelled sidh, sith, sithche) and pronounced “shee.” In Ireland one such being was known as the Leanan Shee (the fairy mistress), a creature with a special affinity for humans The name comes from the Gaelic words for a sweetheart, lover, or concubine and the term for a barrow or fairy-mound. The Leanan Shee are said to be able to enchant humans, to take advantage of them in numerous ways, and even cast a spell on likely young men or women and marry them. She seeks the love of mortals. If they refuse, she must be their slave. The fairy lives on their life, and they waste away. Death is no escape from her. She was drawn to warriors and poets and often magically provided prowess for the former and inspiration for the latter. But her attentions came at a price. As she made love to the warrior or poet whose mistress she inevitably became, she drew both the strength and life from them in the manner of the ancient Roman succubus. In the end, they were little more than an empty husk, which the fairy then discarded in favour of another lover.

Although the Leanan Shee did not actually drink blood, there were other Irish fairies that were said to do so. Some were said to dwell in the Magillycuddy Reeks in County Kerry in the very south of Ireland. In a lecture given at Trinity College in Dublin in 1963, the former Archivist of the Irish Folklore Commission (a Government-sponsored body set up to preserve Irish tradition), Sean O’Sullivan, (himself a Kerryman) stated that he’d heard of a castle guarding a mountain pass, high in the Reeks, that was inhabited by blood-drinking fairy creatures. The name of this place was Dun Dreachfhoula, significantly pronounced Drac-ola or Dracula, and meaning “the fort of evil blood,” sometimes translated as “the fort of the blood visage.” Unfortunately, O’Sullivan did not make any further reference to the location of the place either in his lectures or books. For instance, it does not appear in his most famous book, Irish Wake Amusements—and he died without ever revealing where it might be.

Several academics have tried to locate it but even the most minute examination of the sites of the Barony of Kilkerron in which the Reeks lie reveals nothing. And yet tales of blood drinking and flesh eating persisted in the region well into the 20th century.

In the 1930s, a collector for the Irish Folklore Commission, Tim Murphy, detailed a story from the remote mountain parish of Sneem in County Kerry that contained vampiric fairies references. A farmer in the area had married a woman who was said to have fairy connections, who refused to eat any food that was cooked in the house but at night, would rise from her bed and go to the local cemetery where she dug up the bodies, drank the blood, and consumed the flesh. The husband followed her to the churchyard where he confronted her as a vampire. “You would not eat the good meat or drink the good beer at your own table but you would come here at night to eat this foul dinner,” he told her. However at this point, Murphy’s story became confusing and mixed with another tale and the fate of this vampiric fairies was unclear.


Encyclopedia of the Undead: “A Field Guide to the Creatures that Cannot Rest in Peace by DR. Bob Curran;
The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained by Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger;

Pic Source:
The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained by Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger page 102

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