death coach

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Spectral vehicle in Irish folklore whose stopping at the door announced the death of a resident the next day. As the driver is headless and the horses are either black or headless, the death coach is sometimes called the headless coach. If it is seen passing it should not be stopped, as someone will die near the spot where it comes to rest. Sometimes the banshee rides the coach or may fly in the air near it. At other times the headless phanton dullahan drives. Fallen bridges offer no obstacle to the death coach. Although the death coach seems uniquely Irish, it is a variant on international tale type 335; see also the ANGOU of Wales; ANKOU of Brittany; FAR DOROCHA. While the death coach is found in Irish oral tradition, it is probably best known today from its recreation in the Disney film Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1958), based on the popular fiction of H. T. Kavanagh (1932).

Subjects: Religion.

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