Pookas are vague, evil Irish spirits. They usually appear as wild,
dark horses with yellow eyes and chains. They are known to harm
travellers. They will also damage farms--if a farmer wakes in the morning
to find his fences broken, his crops trampled, and his livestock
frightened, his hens eggless and his cows to scared to give milk, he knows
he has been visited by a pooka. They can also appear in the form of small
goblins. Many Irish farmers leave a portion of their crops in the field
to placate pookas.
Now, if you have seen the movie Harvey, you are probably thinking "Wait
a minute, pookas are 6-foot tall white rabbits who are invisible but very
nice!" Well, when I began my research, I was just as shocked as you to
find the above definition. I'm working on sorting this out--I have found
about five different descriptions of pookas on the internet (see the links
below to find some of them), but the definition I gave above is the only
one that seems to be backed up by traditional folklore. I'm still doing
research to find out why there are so many vastly different
stories--hopefully I'll have it all cleared up soon.
Hopefully I can find some pooka stories soon--there is a good one
about how Brian Boru tamed a pooka, but I need to find a source for
Kneightley, Thomas. The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves, and
Other Little People. New York: Avenel Books, 1978.
A Field Guide
to Irish Fairies
The Dream Burrow