Crom Cruach is a figure in Irish mythology, imagined as an ancient fertility god and later as a demon who confronted Saint Patrick and was ultimately banished by said Saint - as well as being a fertility god Crom Cruach would grow to be associated with human sacrifice.
The name translates roughly as "crooked and bloody" - further serving to grant the entity a malicious reputation in the modern age.
prior to Saint Patrick's arrival ancient Ireland was said to be ruled by old gods, one of which was the fertility god known as Crom Cruach - despite offering good things to its worshippers the deity demanded human sacrifices, many stories claim this would be the firstborn and that the deity was active since at least the time of the High Kings, who took Ireland back from the Tuath Dé dwell (the original deities of Ireland who are now famous for inspiring the idea of fairies) - if taken by most accounts this would mean Crom Cruach's reign in Ireland began at around 1287–1286 BC .
An early example of Crom Cruach's cruelty was said to have occured when Tigernmas, one of the High Kings, and a full three-quarter of his army were slain while worshipping the deity, leaving Ireland without a High King for nearly seven years after the incident, yet worship of the creature continued regardless across the ages.
According to later legends Crom Cruach's reign was ended swiftly when Saint Patrick arrived in Ireland and began his crusade against the old gods, finding the location of Crom Cruach's cult Saint Patrick was said to strike the "demon" down (in most accounts Crom Cruach is said to be banished back to "Hell") and in doing so it was claimed that Saint Patrick ended the practice of human sacrifice on the island.
Crom Cruach is frequently described as a snake or monstrous worm (possibly referring to a Wyrm, a type of dragon) - being a deity of bloodshed and sacrifice its previous role as a fertility god often takes second place to these more malevolent aspects of its being, especially after the spread of Christainity and the subsequent cease of Crom Cruach's worship.
- Crom Cruach is similar to the Biblical Moloch, both of whom were pre-Christian deities later described as demons and both of whom would become heavily symbolic of human sacrifice.
- Crom Cruach is also related to the Wicker Man legend, much like the tale of the Wicker Man there is debate as to whether Crom Cruach actually performed human sacrifice or if it was a medieval tale made to vilify pagan religion (much as Termagant and Baphomet were medieval inventions).