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A gancanagh (/ɡænˈkænə/) (from Irish gean cánach, meaning "love talker")[1] is a male fairy in Irish mythology that is known for seducing human women.


The Gancanagh are thought to have an addictive toxin in their skin that make the humans they seduce literally addicted to them. The women seduced by this type of faerie typically die from the withdrawal, pining away for the Ganacanagh's love or fighting to the death for his love.[2]

The faerie is typically depicted carrying a clay pipe, though he does not smoke it because faeries generally detest smoke.

It is said to have died out or to be the last of its kind.

W. B. Yeats described the gancanagh in 1888, as follows:

[Nicholas] O'Kearney, a Louthman, deeply versed in Irish lore, writes of the gean-cánach (love-talker) that he is "another diminutive being of the same tribe as the Lepracaun, but, unlike him, he personated love and idleness, and always appeared with a dudeen in his jaw in lonesome valleys, and it was his custom to make love to shepherdesses and milkmaids. It was considered very unlucky to meet him, and whoever was known to have ruined his fortune by devotion to the fair sex was said to have met a gean-cánach. The dudeen, or ancient Irish tobacco pipe, found in our raths, etc., is still popularly called a gean-cánach's pipe." The word is not to be found in dictionaries, nor does this spirit appear to be well known, if known at all, in Connacht. The word is pronounced gánconâgh.[1]

In Popular Culture

  • A Gancanagh is a main character in the novels Ink Exchange & Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr.
  • Kaito, one of the main characters of Kaori Yuki's Fairy Cube, is a Gancanagh.
  • Irish Mythology and particularly the Gancanagh is a major plot line in the "Murder, She Wrote" episode "A Killing in Cork".


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