The Irish werewolf is different from the Teutonic or European werewolf, as it is really not a “monster” at all. Unlike its continental cousins, this shapeshifter is the guardian and protector of children, wounded men and lost persons. According to some ancient sources, the Irish werewolves were even recruited by kings in time of war. Known in their native land as the faoladh or conroicht, their predatory behaviour is typical of the common wolf, not beneath the occasional nocturnal raid on local sheep or cattle herds. If attacked or surprised while in wolf form, they usually simply run off because this causes them to shift back into their more vulnerable human form. However, after changing back into a man or woman, evidence of their lupine adventure remains on their bodies. If wounded, the injury remains. If they kill a sheep or cow, the telltale bloodstains stay on their faces and hands.
The most famous of the mythical Irish werewolves are the people of Ossory (modern day Kilkenny) whose legends live on even today. Among other lingering tales, the Ossory folk were documented by none other than Giraldus Cambrensis who, in the year 1185 transcribed what was no doubt a much older, oral folktale. According to Giraldus, the Ossory werewolves worked in pairs, male and female. A chosen couple lived as wolves for seven years before returning to human form to be replaced by a matched set of two others. During their time as wolves, they fed from the herds but this was taken as their due for watching over wandering children, healing the wounded, and guiding lost strangers to safety.
Despite the fact that this is a pre-Christian folk belief, the Irish werewolves eventually gained a reputation for being under a curse from either St Natalia (St Nailè) or, naturally, St Patrick as punishment for some vague transgression committed long ago. If you read Giraldus’ account of these creatures, it is easy to separate what may be the original tale from his preachy commentary at the end.
Read the writings of Giraldus Cambrensis on the Ossory werewolves (excerpt from his “Topographica Hibernica”) here.
Werewolf society once existed exclusively separate from human civilization. An active search and hunt began and intensified in the 16th and 17th century, forcing many werewolves to partially or fully break up their packs and infiltrate human life. During this time of greater danger to themselves and their species, werewolves lived hybrid lives and shifted as rarely as they could afford. After some time of this difficult and painful lifestyle, some attempted to retain their packs in secrecy by feigning humanity in isolated lifestyles where shifting would be private. Feral packs once again started forming when formerly hybrid werewolves moved to the bitter north, and eventually to colonies in Africa, India, America, etc. With new land and space, they were able to become wholly secluded and separate from human society. Since this time, werewolves have made the choice to live the double life of a hybrid, or favor their life in the wild.
I reblog this every time it comes up on my dashboard, not because it is a “rule” but because every time I see it the love and sincerity on her face hit me all over again and I think everyone deserves to see that.
And THIS is why I adore Catherine Tate. She’s loud and brash but in quieter moments… her soul comes shining through and it makes everything about her so much more beautiful.