Did Dragons Exist in Ireland and Germany?

I started a blog series last month entitled Did Dragons Really Exist. I stated four reasons why just maybe they did. Today, I’ll focus on two European countries and their legends of dragons. We’ll compare them and contrast them. Next month we’ll look into dragons in Asia and the rest of the world.

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Irish Dragons of Fame

Since I’m of Irish heritage, I decided to take a look at dragons in the wonderful island. It’s fairly easy to find them considering their flag has a huge red dragon on it. I discovered there are two different views of dragons. There’s the original Celtic and druidic thoughts of dragons and then when Christianity came to the island the idea of dragons changed.

View of dragons before Christianity

According to draconika.com ancient Irish believed dragons came from a parallel universe. When dragons took a path that came close to our world or slept somewhere in our world, those places became more powerful. In essence, dragons brought energy and power to the land. They protected the land as well and became symbols of wisdom and strength.

However, when St. Patrick came to Ireland, he brought with him Catholocism. Druid worship and Catholocism didn’t mix well. As people converted, they brought dragons with them, but the idea of dragons changed.

View of dragons after Christianity

The legend states that St. Patrick drove out the snakes from Ireland. Another name for dragon is snake or serpent. Irish dragons are snake-like creatures some with wings and others without more like a sea serpent. What if St. Patrick drove dragons out of Ireland? An interesting idea. After Catholocism took hold in Ireland, dragons no longer held a place of honor. They became known for strife, trouble, and infertility. This view goes along with the King James translation of the Bible that calls Satan a serpent and a dragon.

Legends of Dragons in Ireland

Ireland has several legends of dragons. They seem to all explain various natural happenings. This follows along with the idea of dragons being next to gods in Irish mythology. One story tells of a sea serpent that harrassed a village by yawning bad breath over the land every morning. When the king’s men couldn’t stand against it, a small boy decided to play Pinochio and took a boat out to the dragon. When the dragon yawned, the boy sailed down into the dragon all the way to the liver, where he built a fire. While the dragon writhed and burnt, the boy escaped. After a while, the dragon slowly fell apart creating Iceland and the islands between Ireland and Iceland. Another tale explains the flooding in a valley as a dragon that a monk enchained in a lake.

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German Dragons

Unlike Ireland’s early history, dragons in Germany seem to be the greedy, evil type that people try to outsmart. These stories coincide with our classical fantasy writers, Lewis and Tolkein. I know the German composer Wagner influenced both of those authors.

Puk and Black Worm

The Puk seems to be the only really benevolent dragon. It’s a small sprite style dragon that lives in homes and brings stolen goods to the head of the household. I’d love to have this dragon living in my house. I don’t really have stolen items, but things seem to disappear or get misplaced. If I had a Puk living here, he’d be able to help us find things.

I could only find one tale of the Black Worm. He loved his horde of treasure. A man tried to steal his treasure, but became greedy and called to his wife to help. His call woke the dragon. The startled man ran, dropping his loot. The dragon and the treasure sunk into the ground never to be found again.

Firedrakes

One of my favorite middle grade/young adult book is The Dragonrider by Cornelia Funke. It’s the tale of a dragon and a brownie to find a new home for the dragons. Along the way, they’re joined by a boy, a hermunculous, a professor and his daughter and wife, and a dragoncologist. The dragon’s name is Firedrake. I don’t know if Ms. Funke had this German dragon in mind or not, but I do know she’s from Germany.

Other famous firedrakes include Smaug and the dragon Beowolf defeats. Firedrakes love treasure and caves.

Lindworms

Lindworms seem to be a very vile dragon. They may or may not have wings, but they definitely have claws. They attack churches and dig up graveyards! I would not want to meet one or fight one. Ugh! No wonder these bad nasties are considered a bad omen. They are known to eat livestock, which makes sense.

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Comparing the two

Ireland and Germany in the big scheme of things are not that far apart geographically, and yet, it is enough to have differences in their dragons and to make one wonder, could dragons have really existed at one point in time?

If both countries have legends of beasts that caused havoc and there are enough similarities, wouldn’t it stand to reason that these creatures are based in reality? What are these creatures? Both cultures have them as powerful creatures and both eventually have them as to feared. The two countries have dragons with and without wings, and both have serpent-style dragons.

If both countries have tales of creatures of great power and size that may or may not have wings and were serpent-like, the odds of there being actual creatures that these stories came from are quite high.


Feel free to share what you think with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

4 Fascinating Answers For Did Dragons Really Exist

Dragons. The word evokes different images–from the serpent-like creature of Asia to the winged giant of Europe, from wisdom and wealth bringer to knights battling fierce beasts. Every fantasy lover knows of the creature as do religious people. While fantasy lovers have longed to ride a dragon or have fought an imaginary one in a role-playing game, religious minded people either wish to avoid dragons or seek them for guidance. The question remains, “Did dragons really exist?”

Over the next several months, I’ll explore different aspects of this question. Each month, I’ll have a post exploring in more detail one of the points from today’s blog. Make sure you check back in to find out more information on this need-to-know question.

How do we go about answering a question when there doesn’t seem to be any proof that the creatures exist today? The most obvious answer to that is to look back at history. No, there are no fossil records of dragons per se, but the creatures have left their mark elsewhere.

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Dragons across cultures

It seems as if every single culture has a dragon myth or story. Asia is the most prevalent with the year of the dragon and their New Year celebrations with snake-like dragons weaving their way down streets. Europe, however, took a different twist on dragons. They showcase large winged creatures that breathe fire and hoard gold.

If something exists across cultures, then generally there is a grain of truth in the tale. It’s these cross-cultural connections that often intrigue me. I’ve questioned the theme of a day of the dead style celebration that spans from Mexico, to Taiwan, to England. Dragons span cultural barriers; therefore they represent some grain of truth. Could dragons have really existed? Maybe.

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Dragons in Legends

From King Arthur to Beowolf to St. George and the Dragon legends tell of dragons and people. Just as dragons span cultures, their tales span countries. The website draconika has a list of legends from England, France, Austria, Japan, and others. The Week lists legends from India, Greece, Babylon, Australia, and Peru. However, generally where there are legends, there’s a grain of truth.

What really inspired the story of Daniel killing the dragon god of Babylon or St. George slaying a dragon? Were there creatures that our dragon tales come from? Over the course of the next few months, I’ll explore these and more.

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Dinosaurs: Dragons in disguise?

The fossil records show creatures of varying sizes some with bird-like qualities some without. Kids have been fascinated with them ever since the first skeleton was constructed in New Jersey.  The question remains, could dinosaurs really be dragons?

With their large build, their lizard-like body, and some with the ability to fly, just maybe some dinosaurs were dragons. I’ll delve more deeply into this theory in a couple of months.

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Fire-breathing Dragons

One of the issues that seem to make people think dragons couldn’t have existed is the claim that they blew fire. However, as we’ll explore in more detail later, other animals have many of the traits given to dragons, including fire.

 

 

Are you excited to explore more about the possibility of dragons existing? Every second Monday, I’ll delve deeper into this question. Next month, I’ll look into the Celtic dragons. In the meantime, enjoy a nice dragon ride by reading your favorite dragon fantasy, or explore Dragon’s Future if you haven’t read it already.