Fintan Lambe investigates Bram Stoker’s Monaghan links


Published in 1897, Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ is one of the best-selling Irish novels of all time, without a drop of Irish blood spilled among its pages.

On face value, it’s considered an Irish novel purely because Stoker (1847-1912) was Irish. After all, it was written in England, is set in England and on the European mainland, and none of its protagonists are Irish.

However, recent years have seen a re-examination of Stoker’s life and legacy, and an exploration of exactly how Irish the story of the Transylvanian Count actually is.
It is now acknowledged that Stoker’s upbringing in Clontarf, Co Dublin, and his young adulthood in Dublin, helped shape this masterpiece of gothic horror.

At the heart of the book is the fiendish Count Dracula who travels from his Transylvanian castle to England where he begins an immediate pursuit of the ill-fated Lucy Westenra, and later her friend, Mina Murray, in an attempt to turn them into vampires like himself. The resistance against his wickedness is led by vampire hunter Dr Van Helsing.

Many commentators say that much of the vampire behaviour and Van Helsing’s methods of defending against the undead can be traced back to Irish folklore and tradition.

The TG4 documentary Bram Stoker agus Dracula explains that Stoker was close friends with the family of Oscar Wilde. Lady Jane Wilde, mother of Oscar, published two books on Irish folklore in the late 1880s which featured tales of ‘the undead’, the drinking of blood, and ‘vampiric creatures’ with glittering eyes and sharp teeth. She also referred to strong connections between this folklore and Transylvanian superstitions and legends.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own