The Pooka

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 a Phúca.

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

O'Kennedy of Lackeen Castle and the Pooka.

Daniel  O'Rourke and the Phooka

The Crookened Back

The Haunted Castle

Pooka by W. B. Yeats

The Spirit Horse

 

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