The Phooka

WAG 1427


This drawing, although not connected with any literary work, is nevertheless an illustration. In 1847 Browne visited Ireland and made many sketches of Irish life and customs. This picture illustrates a piece of Irish folklore; the Phooka (the Scottish equivalent is the 'Kelpie') can take the form of either an eagle or a horse. When it assumes the shape of the latter it can be seen grazing peacefully and permits anybody to mount it. When the unwary person has sat firmly on its back, the Phooka gallops madly away and takes the ill-fated rider to his death, or vanishes in some wild spot and allows the passenger to find his own way back. Browne had a favourite way of drawing galloping horses, and whenever he thought of a pig he usually imagined it as running off to the right of the picture as it does in this drawing.