Wolves and werewolves seem ingrained in the Irish psyche; this can be seen by the fact that we have so many words for them. For wolves we have mac tire and faolchú, and even older words such as bréach. As for werewolves, there’s conroict, faoladh and ferchú. Some Irish names even show our reverence for wolf-like tendencies – O’Faolain means descendant of the wolf-like warrior, and variants of the name can be seen in the anglicized forms of Phelan and Whelan today.
My own werewolves aren’t based entirely on Irish myths (the full moon didn’t feature heavily in the stories of old, for example). But for those who are interested in learning more about the werewolves from this island (and other ‘Celtic’ countries), I’ve put together a short list of sites worth visiting, in an effort to do as this blog title suggests: share the lore.
In the list below you’ll find many versions of each story to feast upon. Did going oc faelad (a-wolfing) mean to leave your body (much like the Wargs in A Song of Ice and Fire) and inhabit a wolf for as long as you wished? Or did those going a-wolfing channel the spirit of the wolf in the metaphorical rather than the supernatural sense? Either way, there was often cattle-raiding involved.
Were the wolves of Ossory cursed by St Patrick, St Náile, or neither? Perhaps lycanthropy wasn’t considered a curse until the arrival of Christianity.
Were there really roving bands of wolf-men, fighting battles and feasting on the slain? Or were the Irish werewolves protectors and guides, as some stories suggest?
I’ve listed seven links – one for each year the wolves of Ossory were said to remain in werewolf form 🙂 This is just a small example of what you can find online. Some articles will be informative, and some might just be fun. Some may even contradict each other!!! But that’s the great thing about mythology: just like language, it’s an ever-changing thing, new layers being added with each generation, new variations being invented in each and every tale.
There’s a world wide web filled with werewolf lore out there, so click, discover, and enjoy 🙂
https://earthandstarryheaven.com/2015/05/13/irish-werewolves/ – In this blog by author Sheena McGrath, she does a great job of summing up Irish werewolf lore, but also links to many other blogs on the subject. I’ve listed this blog because Sheena’s lovely links provide a good starting point for anyone interested in delving further.
http://www.davidjonfuller.com/2012/10/17/interview-dr-phillip-bernhardt-house-on-celtic-werewolves/ – David Jon Fuller interviews Dr Phillip Bernhardt-House, author of Werewolves, Magical Hounds, and Dog-Headed Men in Celtic Literature.
http://dunsgathan.net/feannog/wolfshape.pdf – a great article by Saigh Kym Lambert about taking on the Wolf Shape.
http://livinglibraryblog.com/?p=656 – a blog by Shanon Sinn about the Celtic Werewolf.
http://www.luminarium.org/mythology/ireland/werewolves.htm – an excerpt from the “Topographia Hibernica” about the wolves of Ossory.
http://www.werewolves.com/legendary-irish-wolf-warriors/ – a great site for werewolf lovers, this particular article discusses whether the wolf-warriors really existed.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolves_in_Ireland – where would we be without wikipedia? This article gives a short overview of wolves in Ireland, and some of this country’s mythology surrounding our furry friends.