Abhartach: the sinister legend that could be the inspiration for Dracula

Legend has it that Abhartach was a ruthless warrior, feared for his mastery of magic and dark powers.

Ireland is a land full of legends. It is enough to remember the stories about fairies that steal children to realize the great imagination that exists in the European country. Another of the most outstanding figures of the folklore of that nation is Abhartacha sinister and strange character that many associate with Dracula, the name of the novel and the most popular character of Bram Stoker, author of Irish nationality.

We know that Stoker drew from various sources in the creation of his most famous character. The character Vlad the Impaler, prince of wallachia between 1456 and 1462, was essential to give the characteristic features to the Count Dracula. But perhaps Stoker took something else to create his novel.

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And that something else is Abhartach, whose mysterious history related to vampirism we will tell next.

Bob CurranProfessor of History and Celtic Folklore at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, believes that Bram Stoker based his novel on the legendary story of Abhartach: a 5th century Irish chieftain Known for his habits of drink blood This theory was published in an article in the journal HistoryIreland.

Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. Image: Wikimedia Commons

What is the legend of Abhartach and how does it relate to Bram Stoker’s Dracula

The first mention of this character dates back to the beginning of the XVII century when the Dr Geoffrey Keating published his work Foras Feasa ar Eireann (General History of Ireland). Keating referred to Abhartach as a real historical figure, although in Ireland he is regarded as merely a folk legend.

Legend has it that Abhartach ruled over a small kingdom in what is now Garvagh, Ireland. In addition to being a ruthless warrior, our character was feared because of the belief that he dominated the magic and dark powers.

In reality, the people did not trust him, so they enlisted the help of a leader from a neighboring territory to end Abhartach’s life.

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This leader called kathainassassinated Abhartach and buried standing, as befitted a Celtic chief. But Abhartach, because of his knowledge of black magic, came out of his tomb and asked his subjects for a blood tribute to get your energy back.

Cathain killed Abhartach again, however the same thing happened.

Desperate for a definitive solution, Cathain sought the advice of a christian saint. He told him that Abhartach was a Undead and that the only way to stop him would be through a yew wood sword, to be buried face down with a large stone on top of his body. This would prevent Abhartach from remaining buried.

After Cathain followed his advice, the undead did not come out again from his grave.

The legend, centuries later

Centuries later, the legend of Abhartach was revealed in a book, The Origin and History of Irish Names of Placeswritten by Patrick WestonJoyce. This title was published 12 years before Bram Stoker wrote his famous novel dracula (1897).

In the version of the legend narrated by Patrick Weston Joyce, Abhartach appears as a kind of dwarf either cruel goblin possessing a powerful type of magic. The other details are very close to the legend narrated by Dr. Geoffrey Keating.

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Although there is no evidence that Stoker read documents about Abhartach, or was inspired by him to create his great novel, the legend contains many elements of the vampire myths of the 19th century. east of Europea land where the undead were believed to exist.

Do you agree with Bob Curran’s theory that Abhartach may have inspired Bram Stoker to create dracula?


Abhartach: the sinister legend that could be the inspiration for Dracula