Dracula’s Dublin Connection - ShanOre Irish Jewlery

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Dracula’s Dublin Connection

Count Dracula might be Transylvanian, but did you know he’s got Irish roots?

The world sees Ireland as a happy and cheerful place full of friendly people who love to laugh. However, in October, a different side of Ireland comes to the fore. That is because Ireland is the birthplace of Halloween. We can trace its roots back to Samhain, the Celtic New Year when the veil between this world and the spirit world is thin and porous.

The creepiest creature of the season is Irish – the banshee heralding deaths to come. This is where people first carved scary faces into vegetables to frighten away malicious spirits. And this is also the birthplace of the most enduring horror novel of all – Dracula.

Although not always acknowledged outside of Ireland, Dracula’s author Bram Stoker was Irish. He was born on November 8th, 1847, in Clontarf in north Dublin and educated at Trinity College Dublin.

Early life and Carrer

Courtesy of Flickr user Elliot Brown
Courtesy of Flickr user Elliot Brown

Bram, short for Abraham, was just a young child when he got bedridden with illness. It lasted for years, and his mother nurtured his imagination with folk tales from her native Sligo. Bram must have particularly loved her stories of spooky, supernatural scares. The doctors never diagnosed his illness, but he made an impressive recovery as he grew into an athletic young man.

At Trinity, Stoker fell in love with theater. He worked as a civil servant but moonlighted as a theater critic. He socialized in literary circles and counted Oscar Wilde among his friends, even visiting Wilde after prison.

Stoker met the renowned actor Henry Irving after giving one of his performances a glowing review. Eventually, Irving hired Stoker to manage a theater he owned in London – the famous Lyceum Theatre. Stoker also acted as Irving’s manager and traveled extensively with him.

The two visited the White House twice and met two American presidents – William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.  Stoker also met the poet Walt Whitman, one of his heroes, on his travels in the United States.

Celebrating Stoker’s Spooky Side

Courtesy of Fickr user William Murphy
Courtesy of Fickr user William Murphy

A festival celebrating Stroker’s place in Irish literacy history happens from October 23rd through the 26th in Dublin. The Bram Stoker Festival celebrates the creepy and the creative, day and night. Events include a large-scale art installation, a talk on Bram Stoker’s life and work, spoken word performances, film screenings, and a children’s scary trail.

While his mother’s tales of the supernatural in Sligo no doubt influenced young Stoker, growing up in a city full of haunted places and harrowing history must have also impacted him. Just up the road a bit from Clontarf is Malahide Castle, said to be haunted by the damned soul of one of Cromwell’s cronies who occupied the castle, desecrated a nearby chapel, and was eventually hung, drawn, and quartered.

Stoker moved south of the River Liffey when he attended Trinity College Dublin and later lived on St. Stephen’s Green, which put him near the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Two of his brothers studied and graduated from the College of Physicians on nearby Kildare Street. Medical schools have not always acquired cadavers for their students by asking people to agree in life to donate their remains.

Long ago, cadavers were gotten through less transparent methods – including digging up graves and simply stealing the bodies. No wonder Stoker’s literary focus was horror stories and mysteries!


 

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