The award-winning The Rabbit’s Riot Theatre Company are bringing their interactive performance Myths & Legends at the Castle to Manorhamilton Castle this Culture Night. Learn about the Banshee and Púca just two of the mythical creatures you’ll meet!
A banshee is a female spirit in Irish mythology who heralds the death of a family member, usually by wailing, shrieking, or keening. The Banshee does not bring death but warns that death is near and this gives the family a chance to prepare. She is there as an escort to ensure that the loved one passes safely to the other side. According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, the O’Gradys and the Kavanaghs.
In 1437, King James I of Scotland was approached by an Irish seeress or banshee who foretold his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. This is an example of the banshee in human form. There are records of several human banshees or prophetesses attending the great houses of Ireland and the courts of local Irish kings. In some parts of Leinster, she is referred to as the bean chaointe (keening woman) whose wail can be so piercing that it shatters glass. In Kerry, the keen is experienced as a “low, pleasant singing”; in Tyrone as “the sound of two boards being struck together”; and on Rathlin Island as “a thin, screeching sound somewhere between the wail of a woman and the moan of an owl”.
Considered to be bringers both of good and bad fortune, the Púca is a shape-shifter that could either help or hinder rural and marine communities. The Púca is usually seen in the form of a dog, horse, rabbit, goat, goblin or even an old man.
When a Púka is in horse form he tends to have fun by inviting a rider to jump on his back. This usually happens when the rider has had a little too much to drink and is making his weary way home from the pub. Thus starts the wildest trip the rider will ever know for the Púka loves to terrify the rider with its great prowess jumping over hedges and rocks and making death-defying leaps. Come the grey dawn the rider is thrown off the horses back and left trembling but none the worse from the night’s events to find his own way home.
Myths & Legends at the Castle is on in Manorhamilton Castle from 9 till 10.30pm as part of Culture Night, 21st September.