You may be asking yourselves, “Are Irish werewolves really a thing?”
As it turns out, yes!
Back in the 1200s, accounts of werewolves were extremely common in Ireland, to the point the country was known as wolf-land. (This might have something to do with the fact that wolves lived in the Emerald Isles long after they’d been hunted to extinction in England.) The massive Irish wolfhound, which can weigh up to 120 pounds, was bred to deal with the wolf “problem.”
Gerald of Wales, a prominent member of the Christian Church, included one of the most verified Irish werewolf accounts in his Topographia Hibernaie (Irish Topography).
A priest and a boy were traveling from Ulster when the two were stopped by a wolf who could speak like a man. The wolf explained that his village was cursed and that every seven years, two people would turn into werewolves for seven years. If they survived, they would return to human form after the seven years and two other villagers would be stricken with the strange curse.
Unfortunately, the man’s wife–who was living as a werewolf as well–was dying. The well-spoken wolf begged the priest to perform the last rites for her.
The priest agreed, but when he saw the she-wolf, he was reluctant to perform the ceremony on an animal (nice guy). The wolf used his claws to draw the furry skin back from his wife’s head so the priest could see she was an old woman underneath.
After finishing the prayers, the priest and his companion were escorted back to their camp, and in the morning, the wolf man led them out of the forest. As proof of the story’s veracity, Gerald added that the incident was reported to Rome for the pope’s examination. What the pope thought of the tale was unfortunately not recorded, or at least not by Gerald.
Most people know about the infamous witch trials, but werewolf trials are another dark, bloody spot on human history. Between the years of 1520 and 1630, over 30,000 people were accused of being werewolves and tortured until they confessed, only to be staked through the heart. And that was just in France, never mind the rest of Europe!
War and famine in the Middle Ages helped create the evil reputation wolves still suffer from today. Starving animals attacked livestock and feasted on dead soldiers left on the battlefields. Modern scientists blame rabid wolves and dog-and-wolf hybrids for the violent clashes between Europeans and wolves. Healthy wolves will not typically attack humans.
Sadly, we’re a much bigger threat to them than they are to us.
Do you believe in werewolves? Had you heard Gerald’s wild tale? Do you think it could be true? Are you afraid of wolves?
Check out this amazing video of an Arctic wolf pack visiting some workers in Nunavut, Canada. If you think wolves are vicious and scary, it could change your mind.