The Dullohan

This isn’t a particularly pretty or fluffy folklore entry but hey you know. They can’t all be.

I really wanted to write another folklore entry and sometimes the only thing that sounds appealing to write about are headless fairies. What can I say. I’m an odd creature.

This is actually a fae spirit that American school children, at least those raised in the Northeast would probably recognize on sight. While most likely not a dullohan, though potentially a cousin, the horseman that chased Icabod Crane around the Hudson Valley is the prototypical dullohan-a headless spirit that has very little interest in playing nice with the living.

The only issue with Irving’s image in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is that the dullohan actually has its head, it simply doesn’t wear it. It carries it with it while it rides through the night. As with many of the dark faeries it functions as a death omen, bringing nothing good to those who see it.

The dullohan is Irish but the image is fairly common through European folklore. However, the image is not always fae; often headless ghosts fall into the same role. Saturdays may have been particularly popular (Saturdays actually factor into death folklore with some frequency), but whether or not that’s a regional invention, I’m not sure.

I suppose just be glad that I’m not writing about Crom Dubh or Crom Cruach, since he’s who I really wanted to write about today-you can thank my knitting of all things for that one.

Phantoms and Hauntings




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