We all know the tale of Count Dracula, written by Bram Stoker and his story of the vampire that sucked the blood from his victims from his castle in Transylvania while he was hunted and eventually slain by Dr. van Helsing. It has long been assumed that Dracula was modeled after Vlad Tepes, a Wallachian lord who earned the nickname Drakula by his people and who impaled thousands of Turks. But what if that is only part of the story? What if Dracula was actually an Irishman? Here are some compelling facts that you may not have known about the famous bloodsucker.
Bram Stoker was not of English birth as is often told. He was born in Clontarf, Ireland, in 1847, during the middle of Ireland’s Great Famine. His mother often told him tales before his birth of the “Droch Ola” – or “Bad Blood” which was the name for a cholera epidemic that swept Ireland in the late 1830s. Many sick people were pushed into open graves with long poles at this time and buried alive.
In Stoker’s time, suicides were considered damning and often people who committed suicide were staked through the heart to avoid having them come back from the dead. People who committed suicide were often put into an area in the graveyard. There was one such plot where Stoker lived and he often frequented his family plot in the same graveyard.
In 1847, during the Great Famine, saw many people – starving and diseased – emigrating to America on what the Irish called “coffin ships”, named so because many people died upon these ships which crowded the poor immigrants into the holds and decks and provided them with little or no water and food.
Stoker spent ten years working in Dublin castle as a civil servant and was educated at Trinity College in Dublin. From here, he would have learned quite a bit about the medieval architecture, as well as many of the symbols in his book, such as rats, bats, gypsies, storms and the thick Irish fog.
He was also known to visit the crypts of St. Michan’s Church, in Dublin, during the writing of the book, Dracula, and while he studied vampirism and mesmerism throughout Europe, one can almost see the similarities between St. Michan’s and the crypts in his novel.