In Celtic folklore, there is a peculiar entity known as the Dullahan. The revenant rides a dark demonic steed that has elegant black leather armor that would give off the impression of nobility if not for its malevolent design. The Dullahan itself also dresses in dark noble attire, though the specter has no head (much like the headless horseman from American folklore). At its right hand, it wields a long whip made out of human spines. In the Dullahan’s other hand, it carries its own decomposing head. The head of the Dullahan is the color and texture of moldy cheese, or stale dough, with very smooth necrotic skin. An idiotic grin from ear to ear permanently etched onto the being’s face, and its dark eyes dart around constantly, never at rest. The decapitated head gives off an otherworldly illumination of light, allowing the Dullahan to use its head like a lantern. Able to guide it through the darkest roads of the Irish countryside.
The Dullahan is a harbinger of death, and only bad things will come to any who are unlucky enough to encounter it. There is no escape from the entity, as well. Its decapitated head has supernatural sight and can see vast distances away, as well as being able to see into the depths of nature. This psychic ability allows the entity to spy on people and find the houses of those who are dying. The Dullahan will track down those on the brink of death, and when it calls their name, their soul becomes ripped from their mortal vessel into the spirit world.
On Halloween, the revenant rides forth, so the people of Ireland must be safe and home by sunset. Because in the darkness rides the Dullahan, and where he stops, mortals die. The entity must go unseen, for if one looks upon it, a bucket of blood will be thrown in their face blinding them in one eye. The Dullahan’s steed booms as it gallops down the roads of the Irish countryside snorting out flames from its nostrils. The hell steed is the only warning to unwary travelers to avert their eyes and hide from the Dullahan.
“I seen the Dullahan myself, stopping on the brow of the hill between Bryansford and Moneyscalp late one evening, just as the sun was setting. It was completely headless but it held up its own head in its hand and I heard it call out a name. I put my hand across my ears in case the name was my own, so I couldn’t hear what it said. When I looked again, it was gone. But shortly afterwards, there was a bad car accident on that very hill and a young man was killed. It had been his name that the Dullahan was calling.“
The entity’s disembodied head can only speak once on every hellish journey it takes. And the only thing the Dullahan can say is the name of the person who is very soon going to die. It can stop in the spot where that person is doomed to die, or the horseman will go right up to the door of the person about to face death and call out to them in a haunting cacophony.
The Dullahan is most active on Irish feast days, so it’s best to stay inside and close the windows to avoid the malevolent wraith certain times of the year. However, on Halloween, a soul is always claimed by the horseman. But if someone must travel at times, the entity is known to haunt the night; it’s best to carry gold of some type. Because the Dullahan hates the metal, and according to legends, gold has even been used to banish the specter.
The origins of the Dullahan are up for debate. Most believe its the embodiment of a pre-Christian ancient Celtic god named Crom. A deity who demanded yearly sacrifices of humans through decapitation. Despite Christian missionaries’ attempts to destroy their culture, Crom won’t be denied the annual souls he craves. And so Crom rides into the night as the Dullahan (the physical embodiment of death).