Characteristically, whenever I encounter something in the "real" world which is suitable for Tir I lose it and all the details become vague and useless. However. Recently there was a tour of the ballet Dracula here in NZ, and along with it a bunch of news stories regarding the recent assertion by an Irish scholar (name forgotten of course) that Bram Stoker's inspiration may have actually been a ?14th century (or other - date forgotten of course) legendary Irish chieftain. He was apparently bloodthirsty and unkillable, until buried upside down, due to his having imbibed "bad blood" (Gaelic forgotten but it's not a million miles away from Drac Cula).
Complete bollocks? Fascinating scholarship? Discussion on this would be great.
By Shae on Wednesday, July 19, 2000 - 05:23 pm:
The original article on which this is based appears, I think, in the Summer edition of Archaeology Ireland. The bones of the story are that a 7th century Irish chieftain was so cruel that his subjects decided to bump him off. None of them had the courage to do it themselves, so they hired a neighbouring chief to do the dirty. When the baddy was killed, he was buried in a normal grave, but he re-appeared that evening and demanded blood from some of his subject's children. After he was 'killed' a number of times, the services of a monk were sought. He advised them that the chieftain was one of the un-dead and his name was Droch fholla (Druk ulla), meaning 'bad blood.' He told them how to kill him - using a sword made from elm, I think - and that he had to be buried head downwards and a huge rock placed over the grave to prevent him re-emerging.
I think I have the article at home and will add more details tomorrow if anyone's interested.
By Shae on Thursday, July 20, 2000 - 11:30 am:
Okay, I lied. The article was in History Ireland, not Archaeology Ireland.
By Meiriceanach on Saturday, July 22, 2000 - 11:13 am:
I've not heard that story..more detail please!!
How ya doing? Still have pictures for you
By Suzycat on Sunday, July 23, 2000 - 01:58 am:
Thanks Shae - it's definitely the same article. What is the likelihood, do you think, that old Bram knew this story? And if so, why would he have transposed it to Eastern Europe? I've just re-read the book and have been struck by the idea (ignored in subsequent renditions) that Dracula has to come to England (ie the modern world) because his land is dying - ie there are not enough people left for him to feed on. Plus of course, the whole idea of ancient evil undermining modern rationalism - only unfashionably (in 1890s) sacred (host, cross) or rural (garlic) things can be used against him.
Thinking on it now makes me think about the state Ireland was in in the late 19th century, with the famine and the coffin ships - eek! Coincindence or not?
I wonder if, assuming Stoker really was using this old Irish story as a basis for Dracula, felt Ireland was too close and "real" in the eyes of his reading public to use? It's interesting that he chose the classic Gothic novel setting - Europe - though he was writing at a time when they'd really gone out of style.
More discussion please, this is great!
By Shae on Monday, July 24, 2000 - 02:09 pm:
Hi Meiriceanach - give my regards to Gerry.
As far as I remeber, Suzycat, the author of the article didn't state that Mr. Stoker knew the legend, but he/she (I've forgotten) did suggest it as a strong possibility. The possibility of him knowing much about Transilvania is slight. Romanian officials definitely aren't very happy with Stoker because it seems the main reason people want to visit their country is to see Vlad the Impalor's castle, ignoring the rest of its beauties and attractions. The strong similarity in pronunciation between 'droch fhola' and 'Dracula' is also very suggestive. As to why Stoker would have based his story in Transilvania, I have no idea. Possibly because the area was remote enough at the time to allow him more poetic license than if he chose somewhere more familiar. But your guess is as good as mine.
I don't know to which religious denomination he belonged, but Stoker was quite daring in his use of RC items as weapons against Dracula -especially the host - because he must have known his main market would be Britain, where such things were frowned upon by the majority. I suspect garlic would not have been familiar to most people then either, most likely being associated with 'foreigners.'
I'm doubtful about the comparison between Dracula's reasons for moving to England and migration from Ireland in the mid 1800s. Stoker lived in a fairly well-off suburb of Dublin and wouldn't have experienced much of the effects of the famine. Besides, the famine and the coffin ships were a thing of the past when he wrote Dracula. Still, you may have a point.
Dracula wasn't the only book he wrote, btw. He also wrote 'Lair of the White Worm' and 'Jewel of the Seven Stars.'
By Suzycat on Tuesday, August 8, 2000 - 10:25 am:
How I love literary musings....