Old Irish Superstitions, Legends, and Mythical Creatures


Finally, my post about old Irish superstitions, legends, and mythical creatures. I apologize that it took so long to write, but I finally just felt well enough to research this and to type it out. Enjoy!

Irish Superstitions- http://www.atozworldculture.com/a-z_culture_sample_content.asp?nid=20.34&cid=71&ada=y&parent=culture

Superstitions during Oíche Shamhna (November’s Eve or Hallowe’en in Ireland)

  • Ravens, water-wagtails, etc. are considered to be Satan’s messengers of bad luck (bad, birdie)
  • If you leave an ivy leaf soaked in water overnight and no spots form on the leaf, then you will have a year of good health
  • You will have a dream of a future mate if you throw a lock of hair into a bonfire
  • Dust thrown onto fairies’ feet or goblins’ feet will make them release whatever souls they have captured
  • If you hear footsteps behind you, don’t look back. You can see spirits and they can kill you if they stare back at you
  • If you call someone’s name three times, it can be deadly to the person whose name you called (Bloody Mary, anyone?)

Other Superstitions

  • To keep evil souls from following you at night, cross a stream of running water ( Must have been why Ichabod Crane needed to cross that bridge so badly)
  • You will die ahead of whoever you live with if you watch a cat rub its paws on its face (See ya later, Garfield!)
  • If you walk counterclockwise 12 times around St. Mary’s Place’s Black Church, the devil will appear and grant a wish of the witness as long as the witness surrenders his or her soul to the devil when he or she dies.
  • Boiled milk will cure boils
  • To relieve rheumatism, wear an iron ring on your ring finger
  • It’s bad luck to find a frog or worm in your home
  • It’s bad luck to fall on top of a grave
  • It’s bad luck to have lilac inside your house
  • It is considered a death omen if  a bird enters a house
  • It is considered good luck if you see a lamb early in the morning with a ray of sunshine on its face (pretty)
  • Doing laundry on New Year’s Day is considered good luck for the new year
  • A white clover can protect you from evil (those exist?)
  • If a child walks backwards, then it is believed that he or she is cursing his or her parents (That means I cursed my parents a lot as a kid)
  • If an enemy ties a knot in a handkerchief, then the married couple he tied the knot for will not be able to conceive a child. In order for the couple to conceive a child, the enemy must untie the knot.

Two legends- http://www.atozworldculture.com/a-z_culture_sample_content.asp?nid=20.34&cid=71&ada=y&parent=culture

Shamrock- It’s emerald-green color represents spring and the essence of life. Druids would perform healing and worshiping rites wherever they encountered a four-leaf clover. The three-leaf clover’s shape resembles a solar cross that used to be utilized as a compass. St. Patrick (responsible for the establishment of Christianity in Ireland and credited for preventing snakes from invading Ireland) declared the clover a wonder plant, and he taught that the three-leaf clover represented the Holy Trinity. Even today it is represented as a good luck charm, even for gamblers, as long as the owner keeps it handy, keeps it away from the public eye, and never gives it to someone else. It is often displayed on graves as a sign of protection.

Red-haired women- Bringers of bad luck. May have come from a legend about Macha, a goddess often associated with horses and races. Because her husband would brag about her running speed, the king of Ulster dared her to race against his fastest horses. If she didn’t win, then the king would behead her husband. Even though she begged for mercy (she was pregnant at the time), she was forced to run the race. Macha did when first place, but it caused her to giver birth to her twin boys prematurely. This cause her to curse the Irish men and their descendants so that they would have pain as awful as child birthing pains. In the battle of Ulster, not only were her twin boys spared of the curse, but a young legendary Irish warrior, Cúchulainn, was also spared of it. Cúchulainn won the battle without any help from the other soldiers. Thanks to the goddess Macha, red-haired women have forever since been feared. (I am a red-haired woman! Hear me roar! Rawr. Seriously though, my natural hair color his brown with a little bit of red. It doesn’t stop my husband from calling me a soul-stealing ginger-that means I have a lot of freckles.)

Mythical creatures- wikipedia.org

Bean sí or Banshee- a fairy woman who begins to wail if someone is about to die or has died. It is said that if several fairy women wail at once, then a great person has died. They are commonly represented as being dressed in gray or white and teasing their hair with a silver comb. (Not as evil or scary as portrayed by Scooby-doo movies)

Leprechaun- a fairy who has the appearance of an old man and is dressed in either a red or green coat. It loves being involved in mischief. A leprechaun spends his time making shoes and storing coins in a pot of gold that is hidden at the end of a rainbow. Even though leprechauns were once thought the tallest of the mound-dwellers, they are now pictured as being very small. If captured, a leprechaun can grant you three wishes in exchange for being set free. The leprechaun is not considered either evil or good and may be the son of an evil spirit and a nefarious fairy. (I want gold)

Leannán sí– a beautiful fairy woman who is infamous for being the mistress of human lovers. The human lover of a barrow-lover lives an artistically inspired, but short life. (Long life and no fame or short life and much fame? Hmm, decisions, decisions. Right guys?)

Púca– Irish for goblin. It has been shown as either being a troublemaker or gracious.


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