Though surrounded by water, we’re not known for our sea monster. But we’ve had a few.
In early December 1875, an Irish Times reader had a very close encounter with a “most extraordinary monster of the deep” in Fodera, near Loop Head lighthouse, in County Clare.
According to the Times: “Its head and neck resemble a horse, and of a reddish hue; it has short, round ears, and flowing mane, and from the poll extended two branching horns like that of a stag, with eyes glaring and protruding.”
It made towards our witness, who – wisely - immediately moved to a new vantage point, further from the water - and the creature. And not a moment too soon: the creature “rose high out of the water and plunged with such force as to cause the water to fly so far and in such quantities as to drench the observer to the skin, he standing 40 feet back from the water at the time.”
The sighting lasted 40 minutes. At intervals, the beast would rear out of the water, allowing our witness a good look at its form. In addition to its stag and horse-like features, “it was observed to have the tail of a porpoise and two large fins from the shoulders, and oh the breasts were two large fatty lumps, which shook with every motion of the extraordinary creature. It then shaped its course westward, still keeping its head and neck well elevated. Its bulk far exceeded that of the largest porpoise ever seen on the coast.”
At 2pm on Wednesday, 21 June 1899, a very different but no less strange creature appeared off the coast of Cushendall, County Antrim, about a mile out from the village’s beach.
The “monster” was brownish and fifty feet in circumference. It had a head, 12 feet in circumference, that resembled an elephant’s; and two fins that were nine feet in length.
Like everyone else at the beach that day, it appeared to be there to relax, and was unperturbed by the growing crowd of spectators. And after a couple of hours of “floating leisurely about,” it headed out to sea in the direction of Belfast.
But the day could have ended very differently.
Amongst the crowd was a visitor to the area called Andrew Ross, who tried to convince some of the men “to go out armed with rifles and butchers’ knives.” Ross believed that “a little blood-letting at the neck of the monster would paralyse it.”
Fortunately, the local fishermen vetoed Ross’s plan.
The Irish Times, 10 December 1875 and 24 June 1899