12 March 2011

Legend of the Irish Priest and the Were-Wolves...

This is a very curious legend included in the "Topographia Hibernica", written by Geraldus Cambrensis around 1188.

His work, dedicated to King Henry II, depicted the Irish as savage and primitive and the text is generally acknowledged to have played a key role in shaping English colonial attitudes to the Irish.

However, I see this legend and the illustrations very interesting and worth posting during my "Irish week", as I intend to share few glimpses about Ireland, home to me and my family for the last 14 years, in commemoration of St. Patrick's Day, next Thursday 17th.

As the legend says, the priest was "...travelling from Ulster into Meath..." and what is precisely there?: Co. Louth and my town, Drogheda.
Priest and Werewolves; Irish Legend




In Ireland in 1182, a priest travelling from Ulster into Meath, and having to pass the night in a wood, was sitting by a fire which he had made, when a wolf accosted him in human speech.

He was, he said, a man of Ossory, on whose race lay an ancient curse, whereby every seven years a man and a woman were changed into wolves; at the end of seven years they recovered their proper form, and two others suffered a like transformation. He and his wife were the present victims of the curse; his wife was at the point of death, and he prayed the priest to come and give her the viaticum.


After some hesitation the priest complied; and next morning the wolf put him in the right road, and took leave of him with words of gratitude. The priest doubted whether he had not done wrong, and consulted many theologians on the point. In the end he went to the Pope; the result is not stated.




Text source:
Green, John Richard. A Short History of the English People. Vol. 2.
London: G. Newnes, 1908.


                                       Published at www.luminarium.org

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