The two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Day have been miserable. On Christmas Eve I was diagnosed with a sinus infection that left me sniffling and sneezing and all but bedridden at my parents’ house throughout the Christmas holidays. Then the next weekend my in-laws showed up on our doorstep to bring the second half of Christmas cheer, at which I continued to cough. I was finally able to breathe through my nose around midweek last week. All that said, this Christmas and New Year’s season has been far better than the same time last year in which I had to bury my grandfather and almost bury my best friend within three weeks of each other.
Despite my fortnight affliction, I did to enjoy both Christmases and even managed to clean our house between visits. I did not, however, have a chance to repaint the master bathroom. That little project is on the back burner until I can comfortably breathe through a paint mask once again.
On the writing front, I continue progress on the novel Dreamdrifter. I have also begun a new short story tentatively titled “Zoo Tales.” I am very excited about this new project because I believe the “Zoo Tales” concept is large enough to encompass a series of short stories.
We have seen snow twice in the past two weeks and that has afforded me a couple of photography opportunities close to home. While I have not had the chance to process or upload any of those photos yet due to sickness and an abysmal Internet connection, I do hope to share them with you in the coming weeks. By the way, for those interested, my work will be among those featured in Austin, Texas, as part of the 3000 Weeks celebration hosted on Confabule.com and featured at 8PM on January 26, 2012 at Kick Butt Coffee Music and Booze (located at 5775 Airport Blvd in Austin, TX).
Now, let us move on to today’s Creature Profile:
Creature Profile: Dullahan
Real or Imagined: Both
The dullahan, also known as the far dorocha or Crom Dudh, originally comes to us from Irish legend. This dangerous fairy creature is said to appear as a headless man riding a black horse through the countryside. The headless rider usually holds his decapitated head in one hand or ties it by its hair to the pommel of his saddle. The head itself is often described as having the texture of stale bread or moldy cheese and has a huge use grin splitting the ugly face from ear to ear. The head also shines with the phosphorescent glow of decaying matter and is therefore used as a lantern by its carrier. As if this wasn’t frightening enough, the dullahan has the ability to call the name of the person whose death it heralds. It can also stop on the very spot where a person will die. Some believe that the dullahan is linked to the ancient Celtic fertility god Crom Dubh or Black Crom who is worshiped in Ireland through the decapitation of human sacrifices.
In literature and entertainment:
One of the most popular references to dullahan comes to us from Washington Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, in which a local village man dresses up as a headless horseman carrying a flaming jack-o-lantern to scare off the village visitor Ichabod Crane so that he would cease his courtship of a certain beautiful and rich lady. I grew up with the Disney film adaptation of the short story; however, there is also a live action version of the story starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.
Another story loosely based on the dullahan legend is that of the light novel series, manga, and anime television series all named “Durarara”.
Despite the popularity of these two stories, there are relatively few other references to the original dullahan legend found in popular literature and entertainment. Even my own book Skinshifter, tweaks the dullahan legend some of these fierce dark creatures are the result of Turned centaurs (undead centaurs). Also known in my series as Gan Ceann, Dullahan are Turned centaurs whose decapitated head is speared on a pike and carried by its body as a way to hunt prey more efficiently due to its supernatural sight.
Dullahan is the name of a thoroughbred racing horse, which is one of the contenders for the Kentucky Derby. By Even the Score, Dullahan was bred in Kentucky by Phil & Judy Needham and Bena Halecky out of the unraced Smart Strike mare Mining My Own. Dullahan finished first at Toyota Blue Grass on April 14, 2012, and second at Palm Beach on May 11, 2012.
For more information about centaurs, please see the following links:
The dullahan as a mythological creature:
-“A Field Guide to Irish Fairies” by Bob Curran (http://www.amazon.com/A-Field-Guide-Irish-Fairies/dp/0811822761/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1358190491&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=guide+to+irish+fairies)
The dullahan in literature and entertainment:
Until we meet again, may your ink blots be liberal and your tea stains tiny.