There are many stories of vampirism in Ireland. This is the tragic Waterford legend of love lost and a female vampire, the Dearg Dur.
Arranged marriages were not uncommon in Ireland’s past. Centuries ago in the area that is now Waterford, a young girl with beauty so astounding that men were besotted with her and women wanted to be her was happily living day-to-day and had the love of a farm laborer. They made plans to marry and have children of their own.
Her father, however, was not a kind man and cared nothing for love and innocence. Avarice and prosperity were his masters and his unfortunate daughter his servant. He promised her hand to a wealthy and notoriously atrocious clan Chieftain in exchange for riches and lands for himself and his remaining offspring.
The marriage was arranged and the date for the wedding was set – all the begging in the world from our poor bride-to-be was not enough to move the cold, empty heart of her father or her betrothed.
On the day of the wedding, everyone dressed in their finery, and the bride was a vision of beauty, dressed in red and gold. As all the guests partied through the night, one person sat away from them all damning her father and vowing to seek revenge on those who had cost her love and life.
The Chieftain turned out to be far more abusive and controlling than his new wife could ever have imagined. To him the poor girl was nothing but a trophy to be locked away for his pleasure only, savoring the knowledge she was his and his alone.
She was so depressed, so lonely, and with a complete absence of hope, that she simply wasted away – not eating or drinking, just existing, her life gone long before her body gave in.
Her burial was a modest affair. Her husband had taken another wife before she was even cold and her family was too engrossed in their wealth and their greed to give her a second thought. One man grieved though, her lost love. He visited her grave every single day telling her of his undying love and praying for her return to his arms.
Sadly his love was not the driving force for her resurrection – revenge was the force that pulled her from her grave on the first anniversary of her death.
Consumed with anger and the need for retribution she climbed from her coffin and headed straight to her childhood home. As her father lay sleeping she touched her lips to his and sucked the life out of him.
Revenge not yet sated, she called upon her callous husband finding him surrounded by women, fulfilling his lustful desires, oblivious to the dead bride in the room.
In a furious rage, she launched on the Chieftain sending the women screaming. His former wife was so full of fury and fire that she not only drew every breath but drained every ounce of blood from his twisted and cruel body.
Scarlet liquid surging through her, she felt more alive than she had ever been and she had a hunger for blood that could not be sated. So eager to satisfy the impossible, the love who had wished her back to life was forgotten and such was his good fortune for he would have been another victim of her bloodlust.
Our corpse bride used her beauty to prey on young men, luring them to their demise with seduction, the promise of her body their reward. Instead, she sank her teeth into their exposed necks and drank their blood to quench her thirst and desire, but it was never enough. The warm, red elixir of life gave her strength and immortality and she hungered for her next quarry.
The remains of the Dearg Dur (also called Dearg Due) are buried in Waterford in a place known as Strongbow’s Tree. Her lustful yearning can only be satisfied on the day she died, so on the eve of her anniversary locals gather and position rocks upon her grave so that she will not rise and take the blood of the innocent.
Sometimes though the rocks are displaced, forgotten or her insatiable desire is stronger than any stone could ever be and she walks into the night, ill-fated men falling victim to the beauty and bloodlust of the Dearg Dur.
Ann O'Regan is a blogger, writer and Irish correspondent for Spooky Isles, a site dedicated to ghost stories and tales of horror from the UK and Ireland. More of her work can be read here.
* Originally published in 2014. Updated in May 2023.