has inspired more than 1,000 movies and after
the bible it's the biggest selling book of all
time. But does Bram Stoker's gothic novel Dracula
owe more of its inspiration to Ireland than
Was Count Dracula really a bloodsucking Irish
landlord who preyed on his19th century tenants?
And were the undead and the gaunt haunted figures
that fill the pages of Stoker's famous book
straight out of Ireland's Great Famine?
These are the claims of director of the Bram
Stoker's Dracula Organisation Dennis McIntyre,
who says that very few people know that Stoker
was in fact an Irishman.
"A lot of people are under the impression
that Bram Stoker was an American, an Englishman,
or a Romanian, but he wasn't. He was very much
an Irishman," McIntyre said in an interview
with Ireland's RTE Radio 1.
First published in1897, the took has never been
out of print and has been translated into over
50 different languages. But while the story
of Dracula is known by every generation throughout
the world, many moviegoers and readers are unaware
of its origins.
It's widely believed that Bram Stoker's Dracula
tells the story of the 15th century bloodthirsty
Romanian Prince Vlad Dracula III, better known
as Vlad the Impaler.
The Transylvanian prince earned this name because
of his reputation for impaling his enemies and
watching them slowly and painfully die.
But according to Dennis McIntyre there the similarities
end, and with the exception of the setting the
story is a very Irish one.
He points out that the name Dracula comes from
the Irish word "Droch Ola", which
means "bad blood". Stoker's mother
was from the West of Ireland and she told Bram
about a cholera epidemic in 1832 when she witness
large graves and people being pushed into them
with wooden poles while they were still alive.
"They were literally buried alive. Did
he get the idea of the undead being one of these?"
McIntyre asked. If you committed suicide in
Stoker's time it was actually believed that
you became a vampire unless you got the stake
through the heart treatment, he added.
There was a suicide burial plot in Clontarf,
Dublin, where Stoker lived. As a boy the author
used to spend hours playing in that graveyard
and St. Michan's Church, where the Stoker family
had a burial vault. "By some atmospheric
freak in this church bodies are preserved by
a natural mummification or they were in the
past," said McIntyre.
Bram Stoker was born in Dublin in 1847 at the
height of the Great Famine. This was one of
the most catastrophic events in Irish history,
with hundreds of thousands of people dying from
starvation and disease or emigrating in 'coffin
ships' to America.
The famine may have inspired the visual characteristics
of Count Dracula and also his infamous obsession
with bloodsucking, McIntyre believes. "So
metaphorically speaking we think that Count
Dracula might be the landlord up at the big
castle sucking the blood of the peasants."
Stoker's Dracula is also full of Irish symbols
- storms, fog, rats, gypsies, castle, abbey,
Stoker was educated in Trinity College Dublin,
spend 10 years working as a civil servant in
Dublin Castle and lived his first 31 years in
Dublin before moving to England. But he has
been the forgotten man of Irish literature,
"In Ireland we rightfully sing the praises
of Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Wilde, Shaw, O'Casey,
Swift, Goldsmith, Synge, Behan and Kavanagh
- but where is Bram Stoker?"
His Dublin based organization was set up as
a global focal point for the study of Stoker,
and to gain for author the international recognition
his work and achievements s deserve.
"Sadly and shamefully the author is totally
neglected in his own birthplace, by his own
people," the organization's website claims.