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Illustration from Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Vol. IV

The fachan of Glen Etrive in the Scottish Highlands, Direach Ghlinn Eitidh, is a monstrous creature described as having one leg, a single eye, and a hand protruding from the centre of its chest. The folklorist John Francis Campbell has drawn a comparison with the nesnas of Arabic tradition, which he describes as having half a head, half a body, and one leg, on which it hops about.[1] The Irish academic and politician Douglas Hyde has noted the existence of a similar monster in Irish tradition, and has suggested that both creatures are forged from a common Gaelic tradition, and that fachan may be a diminutive of the Irish fathach, meaning giant.[2]

The fachan may be a vestigial memory of the way that Celtic priests were said to have performed certain rituals, with one eye closed, standing on one leg, and one arm outstretched.[3]

Citations



Bibliography


Alexander, M. (2002). A Companion to the Folklore, Myths & Customs of Britain. Sutton Publishing.
Campbell, J. F. (1862). Popular Tales of the West Highlands (4): Vol. IV. Edmonston and Douglas.
Hyde, D. (1890). Beside the Fire: A Collection of Irish Gaelic Folk Stories. David Nutt.