The Pooka, or phooka is a type of Irish hobgoblin who can
appear in many different shapes and forms. Usually he has red eyes and some sort of
fire-breathing properties. He usually appears in the shape of a dark coloured large
animal, resembling a horse or a pony, or even a very large goat. Sometimes he
appears as a giant bull with eyes and nostrils gleaming fire. He has even been
described as a very large eagle-like creature such as the great winged Roc of the legends
of Sinbad in the Arabian nights.
The time of year particularly associated with the pooka is Samhain
or Halloween the last day of October. This is the time when the Celts believed
the barriers between our material world and the otherworld to be at their weakest.
The Pooka usually crept up silently behind his victim and
if he succeeded in getting his head between the victim's legs they were whisked up on his
back, then he could take his victim anywhere - to the highest peak or the lowest
depth or to any place on the face of the earth.
In Gaelic the pooka is sometimes called
"Gruagach" - the hairy one.
Many place names are derived from this creature's name - in
Cork there are two places called Carraig phooka - the pooka's rock. One is near
Doneraile and the other is near Macroom. More famously is Poul-a-phooka -
the pooka's cavern in Co. Wicklow. There is also a cairn and a natural cave at
Clopoke ( the name deriving from the Gaelic cloch a phúka meaning stone of the
pooka ) in the County Laois. There is also a clochán (stone
structure) on Inishmore, the Arran island off Galway coast which is called Clochán
There is also a fair held every year in honour of the goat
called "Puck Fair" at Kilorglin, Co. Kerry.
Stories, Myths and
Legends about the Pooka
Daniel O'Rourke and
The Crookened Back
The Haunted Castle
Pooka by W. B. Yeats