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The Original Werewolves

September 15th, 2009 § 17

wolfevNow we’ve already covered the first fictional werewolf tale, but what about the first real werewolf story? For this story we’ll have to go to the beautiful country of Ireland. Yes, one of the very first real werewolves comes from the picturesque Ireland.

Once, long ago Ireland was known as “Wolfland” for all the countless wolves that overran the small island causing all sorts of hassles and well, deaths even.  With this in mind it makes sense that the first recorded werewolf tales came from Ireland.

This supposedly true story, according to Giraldus Cambrensis, was said to have occurred only a few years before the arrival of Prince John in Ireland. An unnamed priest was traveling from Ulster to Meath on an important mission with his assistant, a young boy. The two stopped for the night near woods at the edge of the See of Ossory. As they lay down to sleep, the priest hears a human voice calling from the nearby forest.  He gets up and looking out into the darkness and sees a giant wolf coming near. The priest and boy draw back in terror, but the wolf speaks in a human voice and tells them not to be afraid. The wolf said that he wasn’t really a wild animal, but a man that was part of a clan from the district that had been cursed by a grumpy saint named St. Natalis.

What happened was every seven years two of their clan had to assume the shape of a wolves and go to live in the forest. After seven years pass, they come back to the clan and resume human form, and then two others take on wolf form. The last couple that had taken wolf form was a man and woman, a husband and wife that had taken wolf form when they were very old and the forest life didn’t work out too well for them. The wolf speaking to the priest was the husband; his wife was very sick and dying. The wolf had come to look for a priest to give her the last rites. The wolf asked the priest to come with him and administer the Holy Sacrament The priest reluctantly agreed , left the boy behind and followed the wolf, where they eventually they came to a den at the foot of a massive tree. Seeing the dying wolf woman, the priest asked for proof that she was indeed a woman and not a feral beast; the wolf man told the priest to cut a piece of her flesh off (eww). The cleric cuts off part of the she-wolf’s skin and is shocked to see the face of an elderly woman looking up at him. Without waiting another moment the priest quickly administered the blessings and the old woman died peacefully.

Afterward, the wolf walks the man back and makes several prophecies about the English in Ireland, then runs back into the woods. Even though the priest promised to see the wolf again, he never finds him a second time.

This story was believed to be true, seriously. Two years after this event, Giraldus was in the same area, where he was approached by two priests sent by the bishop to ask him his view on this “serious matter.” Giraldus met with the bishop of the town and gave his views in writing. These writings were then sent to the Bishop of Ossory then to Pope Urban III.  Showing you just how serious they took this werewolf tale, one of the first ever recorded.

- Moonlight

About the Author

One of the writers for werewolves.com, as well as vampires.com.

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17 Responses to The Original Werewolves

  1. Angel says:

    my ancestors came from ireland, but yet i’ve never heard of this story, or any story, about werewolves in ireland! i wonder if werewolves are liveing right with us but yet we don’t know it… that would actually be sorta cool.

  2. Kitsune says:

    This is very interesting, especially for history nuts like me. I love old legends, and especially Greek and Roman mythology :3

  3. lycaon of ishiam says:

    werewolves are..indeed real. all you have to do is look in the woods without trying to search, you will find them.

  4. WolfGirl says:

    All of my ancestors are from Ireland,and I have heard this legend cause my dad is like obbessed with werewolves.I am a huge fan myself.(:

  5. kitkat says:

    kitsune is a japanese fox-girl with red hair.they are the inspiration for the pokemon Ninetails,every hundred years or when they do a good deed they recieve a new tail.they can live over nine hundred years.i found werewolves in san diego.

  6. SLH says:

    Love your site! I wrote about the origin of the werewolf mythology in my book “Blue in the Moonlight.”

  7. docturlough says:

    I am irish, ima go get bitten by one of these badboys now, goodbye!

  8. wolfs says:

    thats me!!!!!!~!

  9. stella says:

    This is an amazing. Being Irish my self I have heard the whole storey in depth by my grandfather’s ageing voce. This site has looked in to the origins of the werewolf phenomenon.

  10. Sarah says:

    I believe that some myths are real… Like this one… Also The alchemy thing, where everyone was seeking the immortal elixer…. Thats tru too…Oh Yeah I wanna Live Forever!!! ha ha ha

  11. Alexa says:

    love werewolfs way more then vampires!hope u do 2!;]

  12. Martin says:

    Hi all im a werewolf fan ,irish ,born and raised in Tipperary
    I cant explain my interest in werewolfs ,is it the power they possess ,the scare i get when reading about them .When i was younger i used to feel that a wolf lay at the end of our hall at nite ,nighttime trips to the toilet took courage ,i never saw it though .A friend said it was probably a protecting spirt . I walk up the Galtee mountains once or twice a week with my dogs there are certain roads up there that i avoid ,i just get a bad feeling about them .I used to walk a different part up there but after the day my dogs came back whimpering and refused to walk around the next bend ,i never returned there again . I dont know what happened to scare them dont care i was dame glad to make it back to my jeep in one peace .It was so strange the dogs fear nothing man or animal but that day they were frightened .

    • Gema says:

      That Really Really wierd. Have you ever gone walking there again?
      If u dont get a good vibe from there the go with a huge group of friends and bring cameras at least almost all your friendds bring protection things and go up the paths that ur dogs didnt want to go by and the ones u never went to. if u do please tell me if u have discovered anything at all

  13. Pingback: Liz (10) (^_^)

  14. alexis says:

    i luv werewolves, tell me if u see one cuz i want to be one, werewolves r so pretty!!!!

  15. Tyrrell says:

    I am from Maine and their are more trees than people. My question is do we know about whats in those trees?Like Ireland theirs open space for question, this story is a prime example. When hunting (especaily alone)I find my self in very unique and nerv racking situations normaly just before dark. I live alone and almost always after hunting on mount Cataden I feel fallowed and watched.

  16. chelsey says:

    Trey is a real werewlof

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