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  • Fairy Vampires #1: Spence Speaks January 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Vampires #1: Spence Speaks

    Vampire legends arrived in Britain and Ireland from the east of Europe in the eighteenth century and were, then, celebrated in fiction in the early, mid nineteenth century (The Vampyre, 1819 and Varney the Vampire, 1847). Two of the great popularisers of vampires in, what was then, the UK were, of course, Irish: the brilliant […]

    Epiphany Gift: Superstitions of the Irish Peasantry January 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Epiphany Gift: Superstitions of the Irish Peasantry

    These nine stories were published in 1825, then somehow fell through the cracks of history. William Wilde (Oscar’s dad) claimed in 1852 that they were the best things out there on Irish folklore. Yeats later (from what Beach can see) pretended to have read them, but there is suggestive evidence that he had not. Here […]

    Fairy Armies: A Medical Explanation? January 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairy Armies: A Medical Explanation?

    We have literally hundreds of British and Irish fairy sightings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and it is striking how often fairies are seen in battle garb: the fairy armies. Yes, there are important folklore traditions about fairies fighting each other: the hosts of Ulster against the host of Connaught, the host of Ireland […]

    Ghost Changes Will December 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghost Changes Will

    This is one of those only in Ireland stories, which the British press loved in the nineteenth century. The tale originally came up in the Cork Examiner, but this text was taken from Bu He, 3 April 1869. An amusing instance of post mortem bequest and its consequences transpired at the Kanturk Petty Sessions on […]

    The Bird Tree and Barnacle Geese September 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Bird Tree and Barnacle Geese

    Beach has previously looked at tall Arab tales about trees, including the mythical children tree. However, what about this pleasing nonsense associated with Britain and Ireland? The source is Rashid al-Din and we are in the fourteenth-century. Opposite [Spain] in the midst of the Encircling Ocean are two islands, of which one is Ireland. From […]

    Bosom Lizards in Ireland September 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Bosom Lizards in Ireland

    Beach has recently run across an incredible folklore and forteana resource: the transcripts of the 1930s Irish Schools survey where local traditions were written down by budding students and their teachers: thanks to Stephen D for sending it in. There is a lot to get excited about but first off here are three bosom serpent […]

    Arab Embassy to Dark Age Scandinavia July 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Arab Embassy to Dark Age Scandinavia

    The Vikings were attacking everyone in the ninth-century and this included the Arabs of southern Spain. After their most famous raid, in 844, when Seville was memorably captured by those northern psychos, the Emirate of Seville did something quite extraordinary. He decided to send an embassy to the Viking homelands to buy them off. This […]

    Medieval Whaling Account from Ireland? June 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Whaling Account from Ireland?

    Beach was very excited to find this reference yesterday from the works of al-`Udhri an eleventh-century Arab writer in Spain (thanks to Caitlin Green). Al-‘Uhdri was quoted by another author (al-Qazwini) in the thirteenth-century. This passage allegedly shows a glimpse of Ireland through Arab eyes. The Norsemen have no capital in all the world save […]

    The Baby and the Fairy Bush June 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Baby and the Fairy Bush

    This is a heartbreaking notice from one of the Irish papers, 1862. First a little background. The Irish countryside had literally hundreds of ‘fairy trees’ (particularly thorns) and ‘fairy bushes’, which were associated with ‘the good people’: one such Fairy Bush appears here, though Beach has found no trace of it in other records. Second, […]

    Irish Horse Whispering in Co. Cork May 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Horse Whispering in Co. Cork

    A lovely story from New Market in Co Cork in the wild west of Ireland and another episode from the series on horse charming. Not least interesting is the fact that this seems to be the origin of the modern phrase ‘horse whispering’. Among the curiosities of this district [New Market, 1810] may be properly included […]

    Irish Phoenix (1897)? May 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Phoenix (1897)?

    Beach likes to think that he presents an interesting series of monsters to the international anomalist, folklore horror and ghost community. But he has one regret. In largely limiting himself to British and Irish newspapers the range of fauna is often fairly modest, certainly when compared to the marvelous stuff that appears in some American […]

    Neither Ghosts, Nor Bogeys, Nor Heat, Nor Gloom: Postoffice Workers and the Paranormal May 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Neither Ghosts, Nor Bogeys, Nor Heat, Nor Gloom: Postoffice Workers and the Paranormal

    Beach came across this reference to postal messengers being delayed the inference being that this was because of a fear of Derbyshire bogeys: we are near the ivy-covered village of Longnor in the deep Peaks (UK 1874). For the guidance of our friends and neighbours we learn that our post-messenger will for the future be […]

    Black Rock Knocking Ghost December 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Black Rock Knocking Ghost

    Lots of ghosts knock, but this one was monotonous in technique and timetable. We are in Black Rock just outside Dublin. During the last four or five weeks, the residents in Blackrock have been kept state of excitement the constant nocturnal visitations of a rival of the ancient spectral denizen of Cock Lane. The place […]

    Fairy Human Relations: Dangerous Reflections October 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Fairy Human Relations: Dangerous Reflections

    ***Dedicated to Chris with question marks*** There is a modern idea that fairies are the spirit of vegetation, the spirits of the land. Human beings, meanwhile, are their polluting, urbanizing neighbours. The two represent, respectively, the forces of life and entropy and are on a permanent collision course. Traditional views of European fairies were rather […]

    The Smith’s Ghosts October 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Smith's Ghosts

    This account from 1838 is interesting in combining obituary and folk story. We are in the deep, dark Irish west. Blacksmiths are always slightly tainted figures in traditional societies, muttering charms to the ferrous lumps on their forges. On Friday, the 7th instant, the remains of Patrick Cormack, a blacksmith, were borne through Nenagh, from […]

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