Monster Monday: Abhartach

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about Abhartach.

Bela Lugosi as Dracula
Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Abhartach was a chieftain in fifth- or sixth-century Ireland. He was a cruel tyrant hated by his people, but he was also a powerful magician, and so everyone feared him. Eventually they persuaded a nearby chieftain to kill him, which this chieftain by the name of Cathrain did.

Abhartach was buried standing up, which was proper for a person of his stature, but the next night, he returned, and demanded to drink the blood of his subjects. Cathrain killed him again, and he was buried again, and then he returned again. This pattern repeated itself several times.

Finally Cathrain consulted either a druid or a Christian priest, depending on the version of the legend, who told him that Abhartach was between worlds, he was one of the neamh-mairbh, or “walking dead.” He could not be killed, only restrained. To restrain him, he had to be stabbed with a sword made of yew wood, then buried upside-down, his grave surrounded by thorns and covered with a large stone. Once Cathrain did this, Abhartach never returned.

The stone remains today, and a hawthorn tree grows over it, presumable from the original thorns surrounding the grave. It is considered a place of ill repute, and locals will not go near it, especially at night.

in the novel Dracula, The character of Dracula bears little resemblance to the historical Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, other than the name and having once been a Romanian warlord. There is much Speculation that Bram Stoker, an Irishman who never traveled to Eastern Europe, based Dracula on native Irish legends of blood-drinking revenants such as Abhartach.

 

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