People have always believed in vampires. This very old belief was deeply held in the Celtic culture and very widespread in ancient Europe. People believed in the existence of “undead” who harm after the death of the living.
The ancient Celts had many deities, but as with most ancient cultures, they also feared evil forces and had many stories about them. One of the most frightening creatures, originally from Ireland and associated with the Celtic culture, is Dearg-due (or “Red Blood Sucker”).
An ancient lrish vampire legend about Dearg-due is one of the most frequently told. Dearg-Due can be traced back to the place where she was buried, namely, near Strong bow’s Tower in Co. Waterford, Ireland.
She was very beautiful young woman, daughter of the local tribal chief. She fell in love with a local peasant, but this relationship was unacceptable to her father, who forced her to marry a much older, rich and very abusive man, who treated her badly. The young woman commited suicide and was buried underneath Strongbow’s Tree in Waterford.
The legend says that one night – years after the burial – she rose from her grave and returned to the realm of the living. She decided to seek revenge on those who had ruined her life, namely her father and husband, by sucking their blood until they dropped dead. With revenge taken, the woman finally found her peace.
According to another version of this dark story, the woman took on the appearance of a frightening Dearg-Due, who rose usually grom the grave once a year to lure men from surrounding villages to their deaths, by using her charm and beauty.
The memory of this bloodthirsty creature goes long way back to the Celtic tribes, and to this day, Dearg-due is still a terrifying figure.
The blood thirsty female vampire, Dearg-Due has a companion in Irish folklore; his name is Abhartach, one of the greatest villains living in ancient Irish beliefs.
The legend about this tyrant who enjoyed to terrorize people, has still enough power to strike fear into many people who believe in his existence.
When he finally died, he became a Neamh-Mairbh, commonly known as one of the undead (also known as revenant, a visible ghost or animate corpse, which was believed to rose from the grave to terrorize the living in his vicinity.
There are many stories of such creatures who arose in Western Europe (especially Great Britain and were later popularized by Anglo-Norman invading forces in Ireland, during the Middle Ages.
In old Irish Celtic mythology they are called “neamh mairbh” who return from their graves to harass their surviving members of their families and neighbors.
Even as dead man, Abhartach (also ‘avartagh’, Irish for dwarf), no longer had just the power to kill, he could drain his victims of their blood.
His terror had no limits, but people, although they were terrified, they decided to fight back.
The sword was made of Yew wood and, as the legend says, it was driven through his heart. Then to make sure he was really dead, his once loyal followers buried him upside down, and he was never heard of again. It is said that to this day, after nightfall, locals avoid the place where it happened – just in case.
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