On the night of Friday, 1 March 1901, “an unearthly shrieking noise” woke the people of the neighbouring townlands of Bawn and Kilmore, near Nenagh in County Tipperary.
A “party of investigation” was quickly formed and sent out into the night. And though the shrieking continued during the search, and at times they seemed close, they were unable to find what was responsible for the unsettling sound.
When the shrieking finally stopped in the early hours of the morning, it was followed by a week of peaceful nights for the people of Bawn and Kilmore. Then Friday came again – and so did the shrieking.
And it continued. On Sunday, 10 March, Head Constable Horgan heard the shrieks while he was on duty in Bawn. With volunteers from the area, Horgan organized another search. They covered several miles of countryside that night. The dreadful noise continued – as it had on the previous search, but still they were unable to find its source.
On Tuesday, 12 March, District Inspector Sheil and thirty other officers joined Horgan. Civilian volunteers were now hard to come by; people would not leave their homes after sunset. But it was another fruitless search.
One police officer who had heard the shrieking on a number of occasions said it was “inhuman and terror-striking” and resembled the screams of a horse. It was so “terror-striking” that one woman who had heard it became “seriously ill.”
The police were very candid in admitting that they had no idea as to what was going on. They had no answers. But Irish Times readers were more than happy to offer their suggestions.
One reader wrote that a screech owl could be responsible. While another opined that the shrieks were made by a wurrum – a mythical beast that is half fish and half dragon.
No date is given for when the shrieking stopped. But it did stop. No cause for the shrieking was ever found.
Irish Times, 14, 18 and 20 March 1901