Last week we went over the Werewolves of Italy, the Lupo Mannaro. This week’s Werewolf topic is on the Werewolves of Ireland, the Faoladh (aka Conroicht). This is my favorite type of werewolf and is the type featured in my fantasy universe for both Wolf-Thief and the Were-Witch Saga works-in-progress I have going right now.
Not the Stereotypical Werewolves
The Faoladh are the complete opposite of the “monsters” portrayed in both popular media and in the stories in continental Europe. They were not seen as the tools of evil and demons meant to harm humanity, but instead seen as guardians of the villages and guides to those who get lost in their travels. The only thing they feast upon is the local livestock, maybe a cow or two. Like many interpretations of the werewolf, they transform into the wolf form by the use of magic which can make them borderline shapeshifters, the only difference is that they can only change into the wolves and not into multiple creatures. Also since they are changed by a curse, their bite does not turn people into Faoladh like them.
Something that I see as special to the tales of the Faoladh is that they are able to speak in a human language when in their wolf form rather than the growls of the wolf that we see in many movies.
With the Faoladh, their transformations are similar to that of shapeshifters in the fact that they can change form whenever it pleases them. They quite literally leave their human bodies behind when in the wolf form, but if this body is moved they would remain in wolf form for the rest of their lives (or least until they found their body again, I suspect). When injured or scared they would return to their human bodies and return back into human form. Unfortunately the remains of their time in wolf form would appear on their human form once awake, not making it very easy to hide the fact that they would turn into a wolf.
The Wolves of Ossory
The tales of the Wolves of Ossory can vary depending upon which version you read. The Pre-Christian version or the Christian version of the tale are similar but vary on one key point. Why they transformed. In the Christian interpretation of the tale, they transformation is seen as a curse upon the people by St. Natalis and they are forced to transform for a seven year period of time. In this tale it is always a pair of wolves who, if they survive, would change into human form at the end of the seven years to be replaced by another pair. This version is more often seen and written by Giraldus Cambrensis. (Read his tale here.)
In the Pre-Christian interpretations, it was a natural part of life for these people and they changed often. In these tales the people of Ossory are thought to be the descendants of wolves themselves which can explain the ability to transform into them.
Other Celtic Tales of the Faoladh (Recommended Reading)
The tales of the Celtic Werewolf vary so much it’s nearly impossible to list them all. I did find this great inclusive article on The Living Library website that includes many tales of the Celtic Werewolf if you want to read more.
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