A real-life monster – often referred to as “Ireland’s Loch Ness” – has reared its head once again in the modern day.
Tales of this elusive creature from the dark waters below first surfaced in the 19th century, and although the waves settled and the stories of it have seemed to slide into the background, it appears the myth is not to be mourned just yet.
First sightings reported in the 1850s
It was all the way back in the 1850s when the first reported sightings of this sea-serpent surfaced. The Irish Times was, it seems, the first to publically document the shocking sight of this water-dwelling wonder.
The reputable newspaper’s article noted Ireland’s answer to Loch Ness, “sunning itself near the Clare coast off Kilkee.”
It seems that, as years passed, the waterways around the coastal county of Clare became an attraction in itself, with those hoping to spot the sea-beast.
Again in September 1871, the Limerick Chronicle took to the newsstands to share the wonder of the water.
The piece notes that a group of people encountered a “large and frightening sea monster”, and, quite understandably “had their nerves considerably upset by the dreadful appearance of this extraordinary creature.”
Hit Headlines in London
As tales of the beast below the water’s edge spread like wildfire, it was not long before London-dwellers became all too familiar with the story of Ireland’s equivalent to Scotland’s lake-loving monster.
An English illustrated newspaper, The Daily Doing’s, featured the story in October 1871. The article was accompanied by a captivating illustration which shows a group of well-to-do Victorian-clad ladies and gentlemen alongside a mighty sea creature.
Of all the accounts which were published on the sea-beast from County Clare, this must be the most memorable.
The story tells of a “party of strangers staying at Kilkee, composed of several ladies and some gentlemen – one of whom is a well-known clergyman in the north of Ireland”
The Daily Doing places them in the area of Diamond Rocks, when, “all of a sudden, their attention was arrested by the appearance of an extraordinary monster, who rose from the surface of the water about seventy yards from the place where they were standing.”
“It had an enormous head, shaped somewhat like a horse, while behind the head and on the neck was a huge mane of seaweed-looking water; the eyes were large and glaring, and, by the appearance of the water behind, a vast body seemed to be beneath the waves.”
A stroke of luck
In recent generations, however, the tale of Ireland’s answer to Loch Ness has faded into the background.
It was only in 2015 when – by sheer luck – the forgotten illustration of the beast from County Clare resurfaced. During a process of digitalisation by the Mary Evans Picture Library of illustrated newspapers from Victorian times, the beast reared its head once more.