Galician Urco and Irish Púca

Cervexa Suevia in Vilagarcía de Arousa, Galicia, Spain, no longer produces Urco, a dark strong ale. Perhaps the graphic label on the bottle scared off the drinkers.

The urco, from the Latin orcus meaning the Underworld, is a presage of death. The Irish púca, which is also an unusually large black dog with fiery red eyes, is casually accepted as a neighbourhood pet, except when it’s a warning of danger – a sort of presage of an avoidable death.

When I was in Viveiro in Galicia to tell Irish stories in schools in 2017, I posted this picture here so I could conveniently show the students a definitive image of their native hellhound to accompany my tales of the púca, for which I don’t have any suitable illustrations.

Urcos and púcas have their own chapters in Hellhounds and Hero Horses: Beasts of Myth and Legend, along with Black Dogs (who are not urcos or púcas) and Ordinary and Extraordinary Real Dogs.

About Richard Marsh

Bardic storyteller and author
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