Monster Monday: Merrow

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 the Merrow.

Mermaid illustration by Edmund Frederick (1910)
Mermaid illustration by Edmund Frederick (1910)

A merrow is a mermaid in Irish folklore. Like mermaids in other cultures, she appears as a beautiful woman from the waist up and a fish from the waist below, with green scales. She has long green hair she likes to sit and comb. Unlike other legends, however, she is generally not malicious. Though there are stories of merrows luring men into the sea, it isn’t for the purpose of drowning them. The men are enchanted and live beneath the waves.

There are also stories of merrows marrying human men. A man can keep a merrow on land if he steals her magical cap, but if she finds it, she will return to the sea.

There are also male merrows, but they are ugly, with big noses and bodies covered in scales and stubby, fish-like limbs. They are not as benevolent and are sometimes said to capture the souls of drowned sailors.

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