Emerald Isle

The Storm Hag

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Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales from Irish Gods and Monsters

A Dark Portent of Terror to Come

Across the northern parts of Ireland and Scotland people sometimes whisper of a terrifying spirit that can sometimes be seen before a big storm hits, the one they call the Storm Hag, or the Cailleach. She is known as the queen of winter, and her destructive power is most often witnessed at the end of winter, when her power is fading.

The people of Mullet in county Mayo still speak of an evening on January the 5th in 1839, when before their horrified eyes they saw the ocean waves seem to swell upwards, until they assumed the magnitude of a great mountain!

From its summit the spirit of the wind, the Sea Hag suddenly arose, lifting a towering and warped figure to the very clouds which veiled its head. Two gigantic arms waved wildly on either side, and at their extremities were hands of blue and green fire, flashing like lightning, while the face of a frightful ogre was visible in the column, luminous through the evening gloom.

They watched as it faded away, but well they knew what it portended, and the people of the village were filled with fear. All strained their eyes in the direction of the untamed Atlantic ocean, waiting, hoping and praying for the fishing boats to return to the harbour while daylight yet lingered.

And some did, yet many more did not, and as the gale lashed the coast and the winds grew ever stronger, the full fury of the storm was unleashed! No roof survived that dreadful night, whether it was thatch, wood or tile, and even stone built houses were levelled by the grinding fury of the wind and waves.

But over all the sounds of the storm were the piteous cries of the lost fishermen heard, and the shattering of their small boats against the rocks, carrying dismay to the hearts of all who listened, powerless to help.

Of those who were caught out at sea on that night of fearful storm, few escaped with their lives. For days after it abated, many dead bodies were recovered, and recognised by widowed wives and orphaned children.

Mullet can be found on the map below.


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