ANN O’REGAN discovers why you should never be the last to leave a funeral
There are few greater superstitions and fears in Ireland than those associated with death. It comes as no surprise then, to learn of a ‘Demon Bride’ stealing the life force from ill-fated mourners.
Immortalised in the ballad ‘Sir Turlough’ also known as ‘The Churchyard Bride’ by William Carleton, the story of the Demon Bride has been terrorising funeral goers for at least 200 years and the bodies of her tragic victims lay buried in the very churchyard where their fate was sealed.
Errigal-Truagh Graveyard in County Monaghan is the location of this malevolent spirit who brings heartbreak to the locals. It is said that the ghoul lies in wait as the deceased are laid to rest and the grievers slowly make their way from the graveside and out of the cemetery, where there is always someone who lingers behind. When that person is a young man, the evil spirit manifests as a beautiful young woman who encapsulates all the desires of the naïve male.
Rousing the ill-fated prey with ardour and yearning, the Demon Bride exacts a promise from the smitten man that he will meet her a month precisely from that day in the very graveyard that they met. She seals the promise with a passionate fiery kiss, sending waves of lust and longing pulsating through his veins, rendering him irresistible to her advances.
The moment the promise has been made by the willing victim the spirit disappears. Dazed and confused, the young man makes his way to the gates of the graveyard and on crossing over its boundary his blood runs cold as comprehension turns to horror and despair. The poor wretch realises he has sold his body and soul for the kiss of an evil spectre and that his life is now forfeit.
As dismay and terror take a hold of his sanity, the unfortunate youth descends in madness, each minute reliving his downfall and awaiting his ultimate demise. One month to the very day of his costly mistake, the crazed young man dies in his own ravings and insanity and is buried in the very place he met the Demon Bride, his promise fulfilled.
Do not think you are safe from this Siren however. If she does not get her quarry in the graveyard, she will attend weddings and other festivities as a bewitching female. Once she has you in her sights, she will have you dance into a frenzy of passion and desire until your mind is overwhelmed with hysteria and you die exhausted and insane, the Demon Bride’s evocative image being the last thing you will ever see.
My advice? Don’t be taken in by the mysterious beauty at a wedding and don’t ever be the last to leave a funeral – the next one could be yours.