Monster Monday: Werewolves of Ossory

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Werewolves of Ossory.

Depiction of the Werewolves of Ossory, from Topographia Hibernica by Gerald of Wales
Depiction of the Werewolves of Ossory, from Topographia Hibernica by Gerald of Wales

The Werewolves of Ossory are werewolves in Irish folklore. Ossory was a medieval Irish kingdom. Its kings were said to be descended from Laignech Fàelad, a werewolf warrior. The legend may have it origins in the kerns, roaming bands of warriors who lived by raiding. Many warriors wore wolf skins and when they went on raids, they were said to “go wolfing.” In later accounts, they gained the ability to actually change into wolves when raiding.

In some legends they left their human bodies behind. Any injury sustained while in the shape of a wolf would appear on the human body. Also, the human body couldn’t be moved, or the warrior would be trapped in wolf form.

Later legends after the Christianization of Ireland began take on a moralistic tone. In these stories, the warriors are cursed and are forced to take on the form of a wolf either every seven years or for a period of seven years.

3 thoughts on “Monster Monday: Werewolves of Ossory

  1. plentyofvalue January 19, 2016 / 5:35 pm

    That was genuinely interesting

  2. solsdottir January 20, 2016 / 6:29 pm

    It’s interesting that the Irish were so much more positive towards wolves. In Norse myth an outlaw could be called a wolf, and some of their worst monsters are wolves. I agree that it must be a Christian thing. (The shepherd and sheep metaphor doesn’t lend itself to liking wolves…)

  3. dragonscaleclippings January 22, 2016 / 10:12 am

    hadn’t heard of this legend before – inspiring! I found the bit about the human body not being moved interesting – I always assumed the human became wolf… love your theme of Monster Mondays!

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