Death Coach

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The death coach is part of the folklore of north western Europe. It is particularly strong in Ireland but is also found in British and American culture. In Irish folklore, it is known as the Cóiste Bodhar Irish pronunciation: [ˈkoːʃtʲə ˈbˠəuɾˠ], meaning deaf or silent coach, and it is said that the sight or sound of the coach is the harbinger of death. It warns of imminent death to either oneself or to a close relative.[1] In Ireland in particular the Death Coach is seen as a signifier of the inevitability of death, as the belief goes once it has come to Earth it can never return empty. Thus, once the death of an individual has been decided by a greater power, mortals may do nothing to prevent it.

The driver of the Cóiste Bodhar is said to be a headless horseman, called the Dullahan.[2]

The Cóiste Bodhar is mentioned by W. B. Yeats in his collection Folk tales of Ireland.[3]

In Scottish folklore, a death coach is said to be seen at times on the Royal Mile of Edinburgh, where it collects the souls of the dead. Also in Scotland a "hell wain" can supposedly be seen in the night sky.[4]

The Cóiste Bodhar has been portrayed in the film Darby O'Gill and the Little People.[5]

The Cóiste Bodhar also appeared in Strange along with the Banshee who is able to summon the Coach.

The Cóiste Bodhar has also been featured in the Japanese light novel series Durarara!!. It serves as the steed of the Dullahan Celty Sturluson and it can shapeshift into anything ranging from a headless horse to a motorcycle.

At the end of Stephen King's novel Needful Things, the story's antagonist, shop owner Leland (in some printings "Leeland") Gaunt, reveals himself to be a diabolical figure and departs the town of Castle Rock in an automobile that transforms into a death coach emblazoned with the motto Caveat emptor ("May the buyer beware").


  1. ^ Westropp, Thomas Johnson. "A Folklore Survey of County Clare: The Death Coach". Clare County Library. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  2. ^ Tyrrell, Jennifer. "The Coach-A-Bower". Para-Researchers of Ontario. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  3. ^ Raine, Kathleen (1990). Yeats the initiate: essays on certain themes in the work of W.B. Yeats. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-389-20951-5. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  4. ^ "Hell (n.)". The Online Etymology Dictionary.
  5. ^ Sampson, Wade (March 12, 2008). "The Magic of Darby O'Gill (Wade's Wayback Machine)". MousePlanet. Retrieved 15 September 2010.

5. -Spooky Irish October- Emerald Reflections Oct. 2007 - by Brian Witt

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