Only reported in ancient folklore, this ancient species is believed to have been driven to extinction between the period the muggles call the Dark Ages and the end of the Witch Hunts.
They were reputed to be great riddlers, rather like the Sphinxes of Greece, as well as responding well to kindness, often repaying the one who gave them kindness far in excess of the kindness first given. Some reports name them as shapeshifters and claim that all with the ability to become Animagi are their descendants or, alternately, that the first werewolves were the product of their unions with wixes.
Recorded as having been built by Geoffrey the Red of the Norman family of Synan in 1380, this tower on a rock was forfeited by the family in 1639, and granted to the St Leger family. Richard Morgan was in residence in 1748 at Castle Pook when he died at the age of 106. He had been clerk of the Court of Peace for the county in the time of James II; never at salt with his meat, and died of no other complaint than the mere effect of his age.
Castlepook or Castle Pook (The Castle of the Phooka or Fairy Horse) is made of limestone, with a stone vaulted roof which is still intact. There was once a spiral staircase made of stone in the southwest corner. Remains of the defensive wall form a ridge around what would have been the castle courtyard. Parts of a dry moat is visible. There is evidence of the site having been defended since prehistoric times, with traces of a ring for and ancient ramparts having been found on the site.
There are a number of legends attached to the castle, and these seem mainly to emanate form the nearby large cave (Castlepook or Mammoth Cave), which is described as having been inhabited by the Phooka, or by a good natured giant to secretly ground corn at night for the people of the neighborhood.
If they left the corn outside the door, they would find it neatly ground in the morning, but he did not like to be seen, and after one nosy parker had stayed awake in order to catch a glimpse of him, he disappeared and was never seen again. A variant of the story is that no effort should be made to thank the spirit, or giant, but in spite of this the master of the castle feeling grateful, left a new suit of clothes for him. The giant did not appear on the following nights, and eventually quit working because he was spending his time admiring himself in his new clothes. The idea of such a spirit working surreptitiously for the people and disappearing when seen is common and has even been recorded by the Brothers Grimm.
The poet Edmund Spenser (c. 1552 – January 13, 1599) lived near the castle and its legends may have inspired the name Pook in his poem, the Epithalamium. It is believed that the name Puck which Shakespeare used for Robin Goodfellow in A Midsummer Night’s Dream may in turn have been inspired by Spenser’s Pook.
The ruins are a few miles north of Doneraile, in the foothills of the Ballyhoura Mountains in County Cork, Ireland.