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Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Groan ever so gently. Open your eyes. And now we begin…
You are alone in your home. It is early evening. Bae is out for the night with work friends. Your dinner sits half uneaten on the kitchen counter. You notice that it’s dark outside, which is surprising. The Six One News is only half over, and the sky is already ink black – ink black as in black ink, the black variant of ink. No matter, you think to yourself. You return your attention to the news. The presenter’s voice is clear, his gaze, wary, sober.
You are distracted by a piercing scream outside. You squeal in terror, but quickly compose yourself when you realise it’s simply the wind, but such a fierce wind, such an unnatural wind. It sounds like the wail of a 43 year old geography teacher who just had his kneecap clipped by a moped. Muttering to yourself, you waddle over to the window and slam it shut with a satisfying thump. Your gaze wanders through the window to the large forest beyond your garden, and its image further stirs your fear.
By day the forest looks bright and inviting, full of life’s cheer. But at night it seems like a void. Like the depths of space. And like space, it’s full of infinite possibilities. What creatures could hold court in such a barren, cold place, you think to yourself as you sip your elderberry tea. An owl? Perhaps. Some squirrels, sleeping soundly? That seems likely. Maybe two otters, liberated by the consuming blackness of the night, are having vigorous, consensual sex? That could potentially happen. But try this on for size. Maybe there’s a fucking banshee in there!
You stand in your kitchen, trembling, you list off the possible wraiths that could be advancing at this very moment. Luckily, as a millennial you can access this internally with a handy listicle. You make your way through the options:
Kelpie, a terrifying water horse that will try to drown your ma
It’s apparent from looking at them that horses are not to be trusted. They have the cold lifeless eyes of a shark. They have jacked bodies, anything that works out that much clearly has deep rooted self esteem issues. So imagine you infuse this already deplorable host with a thirst for drowning actual children, and you’ve got a certified cocktail of hate. Kelpie could shape-shift, obviously, and in horse form it would lure women and children on to its back for a cheeky ride. Once the unwitting innocents were astride the mighty steed, the arsehole would gallop into the ocean and drown the poor souls.
Ancient Ireland had non-existent coastal rescue services so it’s safe to assume it was guaranteed death. Kelpie could also transform into a handsome bro in an attempt to lure the ladies to their doom. But, sure, that’s just called a relationship! *crowd goes absolutely wild*
Celtic Fear Ranking: 6.5 horse grunts out of 10
Caorthannach, a reptilian beast that spits fire (not a rapper)
This one will intrigue you. Apparently, when Irish ledgebag St. Patrick was banishing the snakes of Ireland (there are still a few slithering around if you ask me, am I right girls?), one escaped which he then pursued. It’s nice to know that St. Pat has a little bonus story that we can all enjoy. It’s like when you initially assume that Weezer’s only good album is The Blue Album, but then you get Pinkerton and you’re like: “What the hell, this is wonderful!” Anyway, so Patrick chased after this hell-beast on the fastest horse in Ireland – not Kelpie by the way, he was in a bar getting his flirt on – and the pursued Caorthannach vomited in every well she passed, in an attempt to dissuade Patrick’s pursuit via a vintage thirst trap. But Pat was steadfast and banished that creature into the ocean where she then drowned. Nice one mate.
Celtic Fear Ranking: 4 mouth fire spurts out of 10
Leanan Sidhe, a seductress that will give you swag for the price of your life
This one is more of a stealth demon, like the Predator, but it has no resemblance to the Predator whatsoever. So, Leanan Sidhe would masquerade as a muse who would bequeath the gift of musical ability on her quarry (nice!), but shortly after, she would drive them to suicide and nab their blood (shit!). She would store the blood in a cauldron which would grant her eternal beauty. Like a really mean ancient version of plastic surgery that involved luring unwitting bros to their doom. Brotox! In order to prevent this super appealing creature from rising, one must place a cairn of stones over her resting place. Either that or give her a Mumford and Sons album. 2 minutes with those snoremerchants and she’d end her own life in short order.
Celtic Fear Ranking: 5 evil, yet sexy, sighs out of 10
Balor, an intimidating Demon overlord who sounds a bit shit
This guy was the Celtic God of Death, which is a pretty impressive thing to have in your CV. He only had one leg and one eye though, which is something you should bury in the “Bonus Factz” section of your CV. But his one and only eye had a nifty ability: it could kill you with a death stare. Though to prevent this, Balor spent most of his time with his single eye closed, which seems uncharacteristically sound for a demon. The beast also shares his name with current World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Finn Bálor, but who cares because wrestling is for nerds! (Finn, while a great in-ring presence, was poorly utilised in his call up from NXT developmental. They placed too much emphasis on the demon aspect of his character, which diluted the inherent mystery that made him so enigmatic initially.)
Celtic Fear Ranking: 3.25 glowers of power out of 10
Banshee, the OG, MVP, queen bee of evil Irish mythology
The banshee is the most iconic of the Irish hell-creatures. She’s the superstar. She’s the Beyoncé. You know her story. You hear her wail, death is en route. It’s coming to your gaff. It is planning its course to your abode on Google Maps. She can take the form of a beautiful young maiden or a terrifying old hag, but her modus operandi is the same; regardless of what humanoid shell he is rocking: her wail, or her “keening”, heralds death. Whose death? Your death? Maybe. Almost certainly. Mate, you’re definitely going to die, and it’s going to be at the hands of a banshee, and it’s going to be an absolutely torrid experience. She is so prominent in Irish folklore because death, and the anguish that accompanies death, is an ever present shadow in our lived experience. And this death shadow, this banshee, is silently waiting for its moment to swallow you whole. Put that on your Christmas card!
Celtic Fear Ranking: 10 ancient forest hag loafs out of 10
Just as you finish internally chronicling the Irish demons of yore, your window smashes with a thunderous crash. It’s the Caorthannach, you’re too terrified to scream as she mounts on your body. Desperately, you knee her in the side, she rolls off lazily. You scramble behind the couch, quivering. She retches disgustingly and vomits fire on your Ikea retro bean bag, you wail in terror and vomit vomit on your flip flops. You fear-stumble to the hall and make a line for the door, but a banshee is crawling through your letterbox, groaning, wailing, she is on some fierce Korean horror buzz. You scramble upstairs, and the Leanan Sidhe is there waiting for you. She stares at you hungrily, ice cold fear freezes your blood, your gaze drifts to the laptop she’s holding open in front of you, on the screen is Balor, he wasn’t able to make it to the demon attack, but he has Skyped in and he is pissed.
Despairingly you try to pry open your bedroom window, but a look outside reveals the forest that birthed this whole nightmare. Kelpie, the child killing wanker-horse gallops from the shadow veil of the forest. He neighs with passion, “I can’t wait to drown you”, his neigh seems to imply. You turn and face the Banshee. The other creatures lurk behind her. She extends her frail arms to embrace you and…
…You wake up on your couch. You feel the sweat cooling rapidly on your forehead. On the telly, the Six One is wrapping up. Reeling in the Years is on next. You get a bit hyped. The reassuring, nostalgia tinged show will be a warm balm after that traumatic fever dream. You stretch your legs out on your retro bean bag, and your soul is at peace.