This post concerns the cohuleen druith (a kind of magic sea hat), and all its variants in Irish and Scots folklore.
Firstly, on the name. Sometimes I’ve seen the first word spelled ‘cohuleen’ and sometimes ‘cohullen’, but in either case its meaning is clear, being derived from Irish cochall, or ‘hood’. ‘Druith’ is desrived from draoi. I will qoute MacBain’s definition here:
draoi, druidh, a magician, druid, Irish draoi, gen. pl. druadh, Early Irish drai, drui, g. druad, Gaulish druides (English druid). Its etymology is obscure. Stokes suggests relationship with English true, Gaelic dearbh, q.v. Thurneysen analyses the word as dru, high, strong, See truaill. Brugmann and Windisch have also suggested the root dru, oak, as Pliny did too, because of the Druids’ reverence for the oak tree. Anglo-Saxon dry/, magus, is borrowed from the Celtic. draoineach, druineach, artisan, “eident” person (Carm.); draoneach, “any person that practices an art” (Grant), agriculturist; druinneach, artist (Lh.). Irish druine, art needlework.
Welcome to my Celtic Folklore Blog. Each month I’ll be giving some information on the creatures that populated the Celtic imagination in previous centuries. The short stories in the Blue Men, Green Women Series are designed bring these creatures to life. Here, I’ll just be giving basic information about them and some internet links.
This month’s entry is on the Blue Men of the Minch, which so happens to be the title story for the first book in the Blue Men, Green Women series!
The Blue Men of the Minch – also called Storm Kelpies – are a race of blue sea-men thought to live in the waters of the Minch, which runs between the Inner and the Outer Hebrides. In particular they were thought to dwell in the little strait between Lewis and the Shiant (Enchanted) Isles which are an uninhabited group, off-shore from Lewis. They were believed to cause shipwrecks in that dangerous stretch of water which is the location of a strong current. There’s links to an old map of the area up here, or check the ever-reliable streetmap.uk for the Ordinance Survey map.
When I was a child in my tweens, I discovered the joys of punk rock (Irish band Still Little Fingers, in particular), but was still very much a child in a magical state. I remember writing the early sections of a story about some Irish teenagers that were punkish, but also, still at high school, and engaged in portal fantasy. They traveled to a place modeled on Garner's Elidor. My sister thought this was the funniest thing she had ever heard, at the time.
Now I'm 52. For the last 40 years, I have been imagining a type of fantasy / nonsense that somehow manages to combine subculture stereotypes (bikies, punks, skinheads), with a fantasy or folklore approach. I have recently been clearing out old hard drives and found this unfinished gem. I cannot even recall when I wrote it, but it was found in a folder called 'Billy the Toughest Punk Ever', which is the name of a child's book I have had in mind for about a decade now.