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The Pooka and the Fenodyree: Two Obscure Creatures from Celtic Mythology|The Folklore Files

Celtic mythology teems with colorful creatures, from the tall, beautiful, godlike Tuatha De Danann (who inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s elven race) to the trickster Far Darrig (who inspired one of the most beloved characters I’ve written). Granted, my version of the Red One of Irish myth is less of a mischievous elf and more of a hottie Fae trickster.  

In the course of my research for my contemporary fantasy trilogy, I delved deep into Celtic mythology and ancient Irish history. It would take a year’s worth of blog posts to explore it all, so I’ll give you a taste of two lesser-known entities in the realm of Irish myth.  

The Pooka 

According to Celtic folklore, the Puca or Pooka is a faerie shapeshifter that appears either in human form or as a goat, donkey, bull, or horse. The devilish creature has fiery eyes and brings doom upon those who see it. Some legends attribute the gift of prophecy to the Pooka as well—and usually those prophecies are the dramatic and doleful kind.  

In my novels, I adapted the legend of the Pooka as one of my Fae races. The Pooka have sweeping goat’s horns even in human form, which some of them file down to stubs and cover with hats or headwraps in order to fit in with modern humans. They can take the shape of large black goats whenever they please. In either human or goat form, the Pooka have the ability to release jets of magical blue fire from their throats.  

The Fenodyree 

The fenodyree are usually depicted as short and ugly, with lots of excess body hair. They are oafish and unpleasant creatures with volatile tempers; in one legend, an angry fenodyree nearly cuts a farmer’s legs off with a scythe. These creatures are usually naked; presenting them with a gift of clothing will banish them from your property. Sound familiar? In J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, giving a house-elf clothes sets them free of their owners. This idea may or may not have been inspired by the ancient legend of the fenodyree and their distaste for clothing. 

My version of the fenodyree maintained their short stature, hairy appearance, and red-hot temper. They do wear clothes, however, and I gave them a special power—Hulk-like super-strength. In my first novel, Korrigan, a furious fenodyree goes on a rampage through a parking lot, picking up cars and smashing them back to the ground. 

Want to know more about obscure Irish legends and Celtic folklore? Try websites like, or even Wikipedia. Or you can check out my novels, which bring those dark, twisty Irish legends into modern times.  

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