Saturday, June 9, 2012

Of Irish Bedtime Stories and American Thoroughbreds

The dullahan rides in the dead of night.

Gan Ceann, headless man, headless horseman, riding wild upon a headless horse.

Let him ride, for where he stops, a mortal dies.

He carries his head tucked under his arm. The face on the head the color and texture of mouldy cheese. Huge eyes that dart about like flies. Mouth frozen in death's perpetual sardonic smile. Oh!

The horse's severed head larger by 6 yards than the body itself. Short-cropped ears, flaming eyes!

The dullahan. A ghastly creature always ready to fling a bucket of blood in a man's face. Open your door to his knock if you dare. Open the door and he will throw his basin of blood at you. A death omen.

A grey-haired banshee riding at his side, shrieking at his side, as he drives a black coach drawn by six black horses with long, long tails sweeping the ground. And no heads. Flickering candles set in the hollows of skulls light his headless, eyeless way. Wheel spokes made of thigh bones flashing white as they turn. His whip is a man's spine.

The dullahan serves no master. save death.

If you are caught outside, turn away, hide your face, get behind a bush, for if you spy upon his ventures his whip will snap out your eyes. Headless, he resents your vision.

—Paraphrased by RM from Anna's Irish Folklore Page

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Dullahan, a 5-2 favorite since I'll Have Another was scratched, came in a disappointing seventh this afternoon in the Belmont Stakes, won in an exciting finish by Union Rags. Union Rags had been beaten twice already by I'll Have Another, in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness; IHA could have easily been the first triple crown winner in some 34 years or so. But cheers to Union Rags and hail and farewell to Dullahan.


  1. But, but.... He doesn't seem so nasty on the blogs... A-dullahan-amite...

    1. That's clever. I like that. And he has darty eyes, too.

  2. Anna of the Irish folklore is a thoroughbred American too, I'll wager.

    1. All the girls who commented on this post seem willing to wager. I must look into this.

  3. Union Rags brought in some cash for me this year. Had money on it in the Derby too, but that didn't work out as well.

    1. I haven't bet on a horse in a very long time. But I will share my system. First, you buy the first three tip sheets proffered when you come in the gate (don't try to do this online.) Second, only bet on the races where there is a consensus of the winner from all three tip sheets. Third, bet the winner to show only but bet 3 times as much. Fourth, don't go to the bar between races. If you had followed my system, you would have won all three. But not much. Girls always bet to win. Or on the horse with the longest odds. Or on the Jocky wearing pink. Guys tend to overanalyze. In the long-range scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. I'm really glad you won in the Belmont.



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