Gef (/ˈdʒɛf/ JEF), also referred to as the Talking Mongoose or the Dalby Spook, was the name given to a talking mongoose which inhabited a farmhouse owned by the Irving family. The Irvings' farm was located at Cashen's Gap near the hamlet of Dalby on the Isle of Man. The story was given extensive coverage by the tabloid press in Britain in the early 1930s. The Irvings' claims gained the attention of parapsychologists and ghost hunters, such as Harry Price, Hereward Carrington, and Nandor Fodor.
In September 1931, the Irving family, consisting of James, Margaret and a 13-year-old daughter named Voirrey, claimed they heard persistent scratching, rustling, and vocal noises behind their farmhouse's wooden wall panels that variously resembled a ferret, a dog or a baby. According to the Irvings, a creature named Gef introduced itself and told them it was a mongoose born in New Delhi, India, in 1852. According to Voirrey, Gef was the size of a small rat with yellowish fur and a large bushy tail.
The Irvings say that Gef communicated to them that he was "an extra extra clever mongoose", an "Earthbound spirit" and "a ghost in the form of a mongoose" and once said, "I am a freak. I have hands and I have feet, and if you saw me you'd faint, you'd be petrified, mummified, turned into stone or a pillar of salt!" The Irvings made various observations about Gef: he guarded their house and informed them of the approach of guests or any unfamiliar dog. If someone had forgotten to put out the fire at night, Gef would go down and stop the stove. Gef would also wake people up when they overslept, and whenever mice got into the house Gef assumed the role of the cat, although he preferred to scare them rather than kill them. The Irvings gave Gef biscuits, chocolates and bananas, and food was left for him in a saucer suspended from the ceiling which he took when he thought no one was watching. The Irvings regularly accompanied the mongoose on trips to the market, but always stayed on the other side of the hedges, chatting incessantly.
The story of Gef became popular in the tabloid press, and many journalists flocked to the Isle to try to catch a glimpse of the creature. Several other people, both locals and visitors, claimed to have heard Gef's voice, and two claimed to have seen it. Margaret and Voirrey Irving left the home in 1945 after the death of James Irving. They reportedly had to sell the farm at a loss because it had the reputation of being haunted. In 1946, Leslie Graham, the actor who had bought their farm, claimed in the press that he had shot and killed Gef. The body displayed by Graham was, however, black and white and much larger than the famous mongoose and Voirrey Irving was certain that it was not Gef. She died in 2005. In an interview published late in life, she maintained that Gef was not her creation.