The Dullahan is the herald of death and a imortal creature from the Celtic Mythology. It is a headless rider, usually on a black horse who carries his or her own head under one arm. Usually, the Dullahan is male, but there are some female versions. The head and the mouth is usually in a hideous grin that touches both sides of the head. This headless horseman comes to seek the souls of the people, and for that it suffices to say the name of the person with the head being held by his hand.
Its eyes are constantly moving about, and can see across the countryside even in the darkest nights. The flesh of the head is said to have the color and consistency of moldy cheese. The dullahan uses the spine of a human corpse for a whip, and its wagon is adorned with funeral objects (e.g., candles in skulls to light the way, the spokes of the wheels are made from thigh bones, the wagon's covering made from a worm-chewed pall or dried human skin).
Its head without body is allowed to speak only once on every trip it undertakes to make, and therefore has only the ability to call the name of the person whose death it announces. The Dullahan stops his horse snorting at the door of a house and shouts the name of the person about to die, draining the soul of the condemned with the call. It can also stop at the same place where in the future, a person will die.
At midnight at certain Irish festivals or on feast days, this wild knight dressed in black can be spotted riding a dark buffalo horse through the hinterland.
On Irish party nights, it is advisable to stay at home with the curtains closed; particularly around the end of August or early September, when the Crom Dubh festival allegedly takes place. Anyone who has to leave at this moment needs to carry in his hand any object of gold as the Dullahan has a irrational fear of this metal.
The origins of the Dullahan are not known with accuracy, but it is thought that he is the incarnation of an ancient Celtic god, Crom Dubh. Crom Dubh was worshiped by the prehistoric king Tighermas (Tigernmas, son of Follach, son of Ethriel and descendant of Érimón). Being a god of fertility, Crom Dubh required human lives every year, and the most used method of sacrifice was by decapitation.
Crom's worship continued in Ireland until the 6th century, when Christian missionaries arrived from Scotland. They criminalized all this worship and under their influence the old sacrificial religions of Ireland began to lose their strength. However, Crom Dubh should not be denied his annual quota of souls, and he then assumed a physical form and became known as Dullahan or Far Dorocha, in other words, the dark man or even Gan Ceann the headless, tangible personification of death.
In Popular Culture
- This myth must have been the inspiration for Washington Irving's The Legend of the Sleeping Hollow.
- In the anime Ghost Stories ( Gakkou No Kaidan), one of the last evil ghosts to appear is a headless biker who madly behead people with hatches, obviously also inspired by the legend of Dullahan.
- In the anime Durarara!! one of the main characters of the plot is a Dullahan woman who does random services riding a black bike without a headlight and wearing a yellow helmet. Taken as an urban legend in the city of Ikkebukuro, Dullahan Celty Sturluson communicates with the other humans through a cell phone where she types in what she means.
- In MMORPG Ragnarök there is a monster on the map of Niflheim, which resembles the aspect of Durahan and differs only by not riding a horse.
- Dullahan is a monster from some games of the Castlevania games franchise, appearing as a boss in Castlevania - Curse of Darkness.
- Dullahan is the name of the bicycle of Mao Sadaou (Maou) in Hataraku Maou-sama.