A timely transfusion for Halloween

Columbia Vaileanu from Transylvania, now living in Donegal, with one of the world's foremost vampire experts, Vincent Hillyer from California.


By Sean Hillen

To promote the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, emigrants from Transylvania living in Ireland have volunteered to give blood over Halloween.

The initiative originated in Donegal where officials with the Amharclann theatre in Bunbeg are organizing a special “Dracula & Friends” cabaret event on Friday, November 1.

In Dublin-born author Bram Stoker’s classic novel, “Dracula,” published in 1897, Transylvania is home to the arch-vampire, so Pól Mac Cumhaill, one of theatre organizers, said:“It is highly commendable that people from this particular region of Romania who have made their new homes in Ireland have volunteered their blood to help the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

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“The Amharclann is a theatre in the true sense of community, much needed in a rural area such as Gaoth Dobhair, and we welcome such initiatives.”

Said Aisling O’Brien, spokesperson for the Irish Blood Transfusion Service: "We need 3,000 donations a week for patients in hospitals. The immigrant community in Ireland have an increasingly important role to play in supporting that objective and the IBTS welcomes any initiative, including the Donegal one at Amharclann that promotes and supports blood donations.”

More than 30,000 Romanians, many from Transylvania, live in Ireland today and some of them call Donegal home.

Interestingly, especially as the event is taking place in an Irish-speaking region, some literary scholars say the name “Dracula” may have originated from an old Irish-language folk tale called ‘Dún Dreach-Fhola’ (Castle of Blood). One of the most prominent landscape features in Donegal is Cnoc Fola (Hill of Blood).

One Transylvanian blood donor, Columbia Vaileanu, a web designer and digital marketer for Gaoth Dobhair based “Ireland Writing Retreat,” is originally from a rural area of Transylvania and became an Irish citizen in recent years.

She has lived in the Gaeltacht village of Bun na Leaca on the Wild Atlantic Way for the last ten years.

“This is one simple way I can contribute to Ireland, a country that has granted me citizenship and a new opportunity to succeed in life,” said Columbia.

“The blood transfusion service has helped save the lives of thousands of people, Irish and other nationalities, both locally and nationally. It deserves as much support as we can give it.”

Lucian Podariu, also from Transylvania and who operates a veterinary practice, also felt it was the least he could do to help.

“As a person working in the medical field, albeit it for animals, I know very well the importance of having a strong healthy blood supply available, especially for emergencies. The Irish Blood Transfusion Service does a wonderful job and we should all do our best to support it.”

Organizers describe Friday’s event as “cabaret in style with various ‘blood-curdling’ on and off-stage entertainment.”

Featured speaker is this writer, author of unique book-in-a-coffin, “Digging for Dracula,” which was written while being a foreign correspondent in Romania and other parts of eastern Europe during the fall of Communism. The multi-media presentation is entitled, “Dracula: Truth Versus Legend.”

The Amharclann will be transformed into a vampire’s den, decorated with cobwebs, lanterns and coffins for people to stand (or lie in) for photographs, with eerie music, as well as make-up artists who will transform children and adults into blood-sucking vampires.

A stage vampire will conduct a Houdini-like escape to the accompaniment of a hit song by the rock music group Queen and local actors, Aisteoirí Ghaoth Dobhair, will perform an “UnDead” vampire comedy play entitled “Tá sé/ Níl sé” (He is/He Isn’t) adapted by Tomás Mac Giolla Bhrighde.

The blood transfusion service is providing promotional materials, including Dracula-related ones, for the event.

The event, which is supported by the Center for the Imagination, will also feature themed snacks and drinks including Chocolate Fangs, Dracula Fingers and Bloody Marys, and awards for best-dressed children and adults.

The Amharclann is a multi-million euro performance venue recently re-opened after a joint government-community effort, this after it had been closed for many years.

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