The Pooka is the Anglicisation of the Old Gaelic word Puca, it refers to the most feared and respected fairy in Celtic folklore. According to legend, the Puca can metamorphose into a wide variety of shapes, it may appear as a horse, rabbit, goat, dog or goblin. However, it most commonly assumes the shape of a dark horse with yellow eyes, it roams the countryside at night smashing down fences and gates, terrifying and scattering livestock.
Certain agricultural traditions surround the Puca, at the end of harvesting, a small deformed goblin shows up in search of a small share of the crops, if he is not placated he will wreak havoc, so the croppers leave behind a small amount of the crop which has become known as the Puca's share to satisfy the ravenous goblin. Only one man ever managed to tame a puca - Brian Boru, when high King of Ireland, managed to ride a puca until it surrendered to his will. He forced the puca to make two promises - firstly that he would no longer torment Christians and secondly that he would no longer attack Irishmen except those who were drunk are were roaming with evil intent.
The puca agreed but has the centuries rolled by it forgot it's bargain and returned to it's old ways. However, in some areas the Puca is spoke about with quite an amount of deference and is treated with more respect than fear. It is stated that if the Puca is treated with respect they can actually turn out to be beneficial rather than malevolent.
Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source: Russell Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.net
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