Daoine Sidhe: Celtic Superstitions of Death Within Irish Fairy Tales Featuring the Dullahan and Banshee




Harris, Marissa

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A literary analysis of the portrayal of the dullahan and banshee in Celtic fairy tales and the connection to cultural beliefs of the Irish peasantry. The dullahan is viewed as a headless horseman that appears to the peasantry when a death occurs, or is known for decapitating people who come across the dullahan's path. The banshee is believed to be a corpse-like spirit that wails and foretells the death of a family member. This analysis investigates popular versions of Celtic fairy tales to reveal the Irish peasantry's attempts to understand unexplainable daily occurrences and explain the mysteries of the unknown in an era when life was full of uncertainty. The supernatural appearances of the dullahan and banshee in these tales demonstrate the cultural fears of the imminence of death and anxieties of the unknown. Celtic fairy tales help the peasantry deal with death, a recurring theme of daily life, which allows the persistence of these tales among the Celtic culture.



Celtic, fairy tale, Dullahan, Banshee, Irish, Honors College


Harris, M. (2017). Daoine Sidhe: Celtic superstitions of death within Irish fairy tales featuring the Dullahan and Banshee (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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