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Plague of The Irish Pooka: Horse or Demon?

Updated on April 29, 2016

The Many Forms Of The Pooka

The Irish Pooka
The Irish Pooka

Do You Believe In The Pooka?

When you go down in the woods tonight you better beware of The Pooka. A devil of a fairy, well known through the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Whether you call him Pooka, Puca or Phouka among other names this dark demon will reek havoc at your door.


This fairy is non other than a magical shape shifter: he is more often seen as a coal black stead with a wild mane and burning amber eyes, galloping through the woods and the mountain side of Ireland.


Should he offer you a ride your future is in his hands (or hooves). To decline is detriment. An ill faith will blow your way. To accept; you are in the hands of a merciless steed like no other. The Pooka never takes no for a answer, so havoc is yours either way.


The Pooka is mainly a night creature. His mischief and harm devastates those unlucky enough to be in the line of his destruction. Pooka is said to come from poc an old Irish word meaning male goat. Perhaps it is adequate that another shape of The Pooka is that of a horned goat. The horned goat is often portrayed as an evil demon and not one you want to meet in the dead of the night.


Farmers and those that dwell in the countryside live at the peril of The Pooka. He relishes in tearing down fences and terrifying livestock. He thinks nothing of spoiling a garden or harvest. The farmers traditionally left a little of their harvest for The Pooka. To encourage him to be more lenient with his horrid games, saving their harvest from harm.


The wretched fella will even knock at your door in the middle of the night. Don't ever answer, or you'll be heading for the hills on the back of a crazy stallion. If you venture south of Ireland you'll see many an eagle. A shape favored by the Irish fairy in these parts. Beware as his eagle eye is watching every move you make. He is waiting to plague you with his devilment and cast turbulence into your path.


This clever fairy has a gift: being able to speak in a human voice and can lure people away with the ease of conversation. Not only does he chose to trouble the people of the countryside, he relishes in tormenting the late night traveller.


The Pooka will appear as a human and misguide the traveller, only to scare him out of his wits. The petrified traveller left distraught, is in a state of confusion at the hands of the demon fairy.


The Pooka also appears as a cat. While he can be a mean and ugly cat, he can also appear as a cute and tame cat at first, and lure you through false impressions. The games this fella plays are relentless.


His mischief is known through the lands, but for one day a year: November Day the only day he takes off from plaguing the people. Traditionally this day was the day the people could ask The Pooka for insight into their futures for the forth coming year. He would advise them honestly of the best way forward for the next twelve months.


The Pooka is so well known through Ireland that many springs and waterfalls are called after him. There is a water fall in County Wicklow called Poula Phouk the Pooka's hole. If you take to swim in a lake or pool called after The Pooka beware of your surroundings and don't be the first to take a dive, be it Ireland or world wide. The Pooka is an arrogant fella and takes pride in his name; he often visits the places of his namesake.


The many shapes of this little troublemaker seem to favor the hills and mountain side, although old stories told by many story tellers, say The Pooka visited the sailors too. There seems no end to this creatures choice of image, including that of a big dog and a rabbit. No doubt an evil one with huge teeth.


No one really knows for sure just how many shapes this fairy has conquered and how often they've come across the very face of The Poocha. Perhaps it's better not to!

The High King or Ireland

A True Tale

Long ago a story was told of the High King of Ireland: the brave Brian Buro riding the devil Pooka while in the form of a coal black steed. He stole hairs from the tail of the horse and made it into a bridal. Without the knowledge of fear the great man mounted the animal and took to the rolling emerald hills. The Pooka grew weary after many hours at the strong hands of the great man Buro, and eventually surrendered to the wishes of the High King; to leave all Irish people free of his mischief and not to play foul with their animals or lands. Of course if you were drunk or on foreign lands this wish went over the Pooka's head! And if your blood was not Irish you were at the peril of the demon fairy regardless of where you strayed.

It seems however, that The Pooka was not able to keep his promise or perhaps all along he told a lie to the Great King and alas his games are still full and plentiful. While some Irish folk will beg the pardon of The Pooka believing him to be no more than a a mere player meaning only to play a joke, his mischief seen as harmless and indeed just for fun. There are others that beg to differ finding his mind games treacherous and soul invading; their lives are constantly haunted by the ever raining of tricks and mischief that he continues to play: to the eventual loss of their lively hood and for some the eternal loss of their sanity.

The Story Goes

The Pooka is alive and well in all his many shapes and forms amongst us today. With the spread of the Irish to lands far and wide The Pooka plays away from time to time. If you have some Celtic blood inside you The Pooka will watch you, get to know you and find what kind of games he can play to slowly drive you to madness. Watch for the animal that you don't know, yet looks at you and smiles. And if an old man or woman stops to chat, with stories and tales that fall easy on your ear, beware. And if you're not the first to live in your home they'll tell you they lived there before and indeed knew all those that reigned. You'll know it's the Pooka because he never says goodbye. Once he finds you the games begin. Do you believe in the Pooka. No! no matter my dears because he believes in you...

If you go down in the woods tonight you better beware of The Pooka...

© 2010 Gabriel Wilson

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