Fictional Irish Protestants: I. Dracula.
Of all the possible, honorary members of the Church of Ireland in fiction, Dracula is one of the best.
It may seem a bit of a stretch since the man himself clearly wasn’t a very good member of any
Church and he was Hungarian, or Romanian depending on who you listen to and whether they were
writing before Romania grabbed Transylvania in 1920. Writers put a bit of themselves into their
characters, even the bad ones, and some Victorian members of the Irish Church did have very odd
ideas about religion and morality.
Anyway, the Protestant Irishman, Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania and didn’t know very much about it. Since he springs from the mind of the writer it isn’t hard to imagine that Dracula is an Irishman, transported to a faraway place and then removed, by the magic of Free Movement, to England there to wreak havoc on the morally pure English. Eventually he’s defeated by a Dutchman– Van Helsing – invited to England to rescue the nation from the Unholy One. You don’t have to think too hard about it to see themes from Irish history in that.
Some commentators claim that the whole book is a view of Nineteenth Century Irish Protestantism
from the inside out; a strong sense of belonging; a knowledge that their neighbours saw anyone who
wasn’t the same as them as aliens; ambiguous feelings regarding their own place in history and a
fear for a future in which they may have no place.
It’s fiction of course, although fiction that has caught the imagination of the world. Truth, on the
other hand, does deal with some of the same sort of themes, the precarious belonging that is the
place of the Christian in this world. As we read in Philippians 3:20:
For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to
the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
On this island, where disagreements over citizenship, nationality and race have made many people
reject one another, always remember that those of us who are reformed Christians have a higher,
better allegiance, to Christ, his Kingdom and to his people.
For more on Dracula’s Irish origins, see:
For other reading try this link