Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Death Coach

The Death Coach, also known as the Coach-a-bower or Coshta-Bower, is a staple in Irish folklore.  It is a large, black horse drawn hearse, pulled by six black stallions.  In some tellings of the story, these stallions have no head.

The driver of the Death Coach is known as the Dullahan.  The Dullahan, a normal man in every other way, lacks one very defining characteristic--his head.  Most often, this headless apparition carries his decapitated head, or leaves it lying beside him on the seat.  Witnesses to the ghastly visage agree that the head has the texture of moldy cheese, and features a sinister, grinning mouth.

Like the Banshee of Irish folklore, the Death Coach is seen as a death omen.  If the phantom coach is seen or heard on one's property, it will continue to harass the family until the inevitable death of one of the members shortly after. One variant of the story says that if you open the front door of the home to the Death Coach, a basin of blood will be thrown in your face.

The legend of the Death Coach has migrated into all areas of the British Isles, and in various parts of the United States.  Numerous stories can be found from New York, WV, and of course, on the Royal Mile of Edinburgh, where it makes regular stops to collect the souls of the dead.

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Photo by atsouza


  1. this is interesting..i love finding out about irish forklore,since I have irish in my family.this makes me wish I could talk to my ancestors.i only could imagine what they would say.

    1. Thanks! As a native West Virginian, I'm pretty stereotypical in my ancestry...a good mix of Scot-Irish, Cherokee, and some Welsh, English and German thrown in for good measure! I love hearing about these things as well; there is so much though, I'll NEVER get around to researching it all!


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