Faoladh: Irish Werewolves!

Sometimes roaming the Internet comes up with sights best left unseen, thoughts best left unthunk.  This, though, isn’t one of them.

For, in all my research (Horror and Fantasy related), I’d never heard of Irish Werewolves until today.

Faroladh.  Conroicht.  Werewolves.

I knew there were a plethora of Vampires the world over, so it doesn’t shock.  It’s just neat.  Especially on St. Patrick’s day.

(Hence the green text, by the by.)

I thought, as an aid to future writing, I’d put a few notes on this subject here.

From I Love Werewolves comes the following notes:

Tales of Irish werewolves were recorded in the Historia Brittonum. The Historia Brittonum is a record of the very earliest times in Britain by a Welsh monk named Nennius who lived in the 9th century. The Irish version of the Historia Brittonum (which is different from the British version) states that “The Descendants of the Wolf are in Ossory“. The “werewolves” of Ossory Ireland are shapeshifters that transform into wolves and kill cattle. The tales say that if their bodies were moved while their spirits were out they would not be able to return to their bodies.


Werewolf legends were also recorded by Giraldus Cambrensis or Gerald of Wales in the Topographia Hibernica in the 12th century. The writings were of the landscape and people of Ireland as per his observations and eye witness accounts. In it, he recounts the tale of a priest who met a wolf who spoke to him and told him he was a native of Ossory, Ireland. The wolf stated that the people in Ossory were cursed such that every seven years a man and woman from Ossory were transformed into a wolf. The wolf asked for the priest’s help.

As with the little image above, I Love Werewolves insists that the Faroladh are basically Good Guys.  We Are Star Stuff continues this trend, though it adds an interesting note (emphasis mine):

[T]he Irish werewolf is a complex creature, just as often helpful, or at least benign, as dangerous. Most of the websites and posts I read say that Irish werewolves were considered guardian spirits who protected children, wounded men, and the lost, although they mostly don’t give sources.

Which is later followed with this interesting comment on the Laignach Faelad (again, emphasis mine):

According to several websites, these warriors would fight for any king who could pay their price – but this was not measured in gold, but in the flesh of newborn babies.

That’s a strange way of protecting children.

Obviously there are different types of Faroladh, different tales from different regions.  Here’s a different example from the same essay:

His initial testimony is remarkable: he does not deny being a werewolf, but he says that werewolves are the dogs of God, and that they go into Hell, which lies across the sea, three times a year to recover grain, cattle, and so forth that are stolen and taken there by sorcerers. The foodstuffs are guarded by guards who brutally beat those they catch with broomsticks wrapped in horsehair. If they are unable to recover the grain, then there will be a poor harvest. He claims that werewolves go off into the woods, take off their clothing, and put on a wolf skin. By this means, they are transmuted into wolves, and they roam around in groups up to 30 strong, tearing to pieces any animal they come across, roasting it, and eating it. Occasionally, they also steal animals from farms for the same purpose.

The same essay mentions a werewolf in connection with Saint Patrick (it’s not quite a post about Ireland without a mention of Paddy) as well as a bit on my dog Cúchulainn (heh) dealing with a shapeshifting Goddess who at one point takes the form of a wolf.  very interesting stuff, well worth remembering.

Which, again, is the reasoning behind this post.


2 Replies to “Faoladh: Irish Werewolves!”

  1. Glad you enjoyed my post on the Werewolves of Ireland. You picked up on my scepticism about the faoladh being protectors. They seem to have been caught up in the legend of Crom Cruach, who supposedly demanded child sacrfices from his folowers, with a touch of the Norse beserkers.

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