Phooka

The phooka is a tricksy shape-shifting goblin of Irish lore. He can take on various forms such as a dog, bull, or even an eagle. Most frequently, however, he appears as a black horse or pony with glowing eyes. He approaches unwary travelers and offers them a ride on his back. Once he has them, the phooka then takes them on a harrowing gallop across the countryside before unceremoniously dumping them into a ditch or mire. Then he laughs at them. If he had fingers, I imagine he’d point, too.

 

The phooka seems to be a benign cousin to the kelpie, who also appears as a horse to carry unwary travelers upon his back. However, unlike the phooka who seems to be just having a bit of fun, the kelpie will take his passengers to a lake or river and drown them.

 

Source: Froud, Brian; Lee, Alan, Faeries, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1978.

 


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Sophie Duncan - 4 years ago

Note to self – avoid all horses with glowing eyes who offer you a ride on their back – no good will come of it ;P
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    Sara C. Snider - 4 years ago

    You’d think more people would refuse transportation from solicitous horses with glowing eyes, but apparently not. πŸ˜‰

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Tasha - 4 years ago

You would think people would avoid a horse with glowing eyes, wouldn’t you – kind of a give away :). The only time I’ve heard the word pookha it was spelt slightly differently as you can see and was in Anne McCaffrey’s The Rowan – it was a comforting presence for a traumatised child.
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    Sara C. Snider - 4 years ago

    Haha, yeah. That was pretty much my response to Sophie. I haven’t read The Rowan. It sounds interesting, and I like Anne McCaffrey.

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Michelle Stanley - 4 years ago

I will be avoiding these horses with glowing red eyes. Run like the wind and hope the dickens I don’t get caught.
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    Sara C. Snider - 4 years ago

    Good idea. πŸ™‚

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Timothy Brannan - 4 years ago

LOVE Phookas.

The first Phooka I ever knew about was Harvey from the movie.


Timothy S. Brannan

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    Sara C. Snider - 4 years ago

    I haven’t seen that movie, which I may need to remedy. Jimmy Stewart is cool.

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Djinnia - 4 years ago

Great post.

Just read a trilogy by Sarah prineas that had a phooka clan in it, but they used a bone in their mouth to change from horse or dog.

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    Sara C. Snider - 4 years ago

    Interesting. πŸ™‚

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Lori L MacLaughlin - 4 years ago

I’ve heard of a kelpie, but not a phooka. Interesting!

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    Sara C. Snider - 4 years ago

    Thanks, Lori. πŸ™‚

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