Weasels [actually, they’re Irish stoats, but we insist on calling them weasels] are my favourite fortean creatures. They’re hard as nails and are always up for a ruck. The following stories illustrate this perfectly.
In October 1954, Patrick Bonner of Crickamore, County Donegal, was crossing a field near his home when he saw a rabbit being attacked by a weasel. Bonner intervened and – if you’ll excuse the expression – “beat off” the weasel. The weasel, needless to say, was vexed. Putting its tail in its mouth, it whistled – “frantically,” calling out his weasel buddies, who immediately set upon Mr Bonner. Bonner struggled for some time to fend them off, and it was only the arrival of his dog – alerted by Bonner’s cries - that tipped the balance.
Thomas Ward of Ardara, County Donegal was cycling home around midnight, on an April night in 1951. He was about a quarter of a mile from his village when he came across a pack of weasels walking four abreast on the road. Unable to avoid them, he clipped one with the front wheel of his bike. Not having the benefit of Fortean Ireland to warn him of such folly, he got off his bike “to investigate.” He was attacked, of course. Fortunately, he was able to shake them off and cycle his way to safety.
On the morning of Sunday, 11 October 1840, “a poor man was attending his cow” at Ardnagannon, near Killygordon, County Donegal. He took “a Testament” from his pocket and began to read. A weasel appeared, grabbed the book and scarpered. The man chased the weasel, caught it, and recovered his property. This caused the weasel to chatter loudly, which is never good. Fortunately, the weasel’s call for back-up went unheard.
According to the Dublin Evening Mail, what was remarkable about this incident was that the man was reading “the 9th verse of the General Epistle of Jude” at the time. [From what I can gather, via Google, the 9th verse is: “Yet Michael the Archangel, when he strove against the devil, and disputed about the body of Moses, durst not blame him with cursed speaking, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” I’m happy to hear from anyone who gets the relevance of this!]
One day in August 1953, John Cairns was cutting turf on Eilaught Bog, County Tyrone, when he spotted a weasel carrying a bird. As Cairns watched, a hawk swooped out of the sky and lifted the weasel into the air. But, within moments, both fell to the ground. The weasel made off into the heather. The hawk lay dead.
Despite appearing to be invincible, weasels are mortal. On Friday, 21 July 1939, Dan O’Donnell of Upper Keadue, Burtonport, County Donegal, was working on Belcruit Mountain, moving turf from the bog to the side of the road, when he came across a large group of weasels. They were gathered round a piece of turf. On closer inspection, O’Donnell could see that the turf had been hollowed out, and in it lay a dead weasel. O’Donnell believed the weasels were holding a wake. It could have been a funeral. But the weasels chased O’Donnell away before he could see more.
- Derry Journal, 28 July 1939, 6 April 1951, 14 August 1953 and 29 October 1954
- Dublin Evening Mail, 23 October 1840