Lake Monsters of Connemara:
Connemara has a wild and rugged landscape with acres of bogland, mountains and hills and many, many lakes. In the general run of things the occupants of these lakes are assumed to be a few trout and salmon, the odd duck and an otter or two, but some have evidence to think that there may be other lake dwellers.
Some have even seen them and written reports of what they saw. Large and eel like these residents of the lakes are said to even slide from lake to lake. Some who have seen them have refused to return to the lake where they saw the creatures. Experts who have studied the Loch Ness Monster have thought the reports reliable enough to come and study the area in search of these elusive creatures.
Let us have a look into the accounts of these creatures, known to some as Peiste or horse eels. The earliest reports that I can find concerning the existence of these elusive creatures are dated the late 1800s but in common with the tales of fairy folk and banshees there have been tales of creatures in the lakes for many years before that.
There were a couple of very convincing reports of eel like creatures getting trapped while moving between lakes during a drought in the late 1800s.
One got itself caught under a bridge in Ballynahinch and was to be dispatched and hauled ashore the next day, but the creature had a narrow escape when rain came overnight, the waters rose and he managed to swim away. Around the same time another eel like creature was caught in a culvert near Derrylea lake although this one was not so lucky there are no accounts of what happened to its remains.
The stories of lake creatures were fading rapidly into the past and were only used to scare children until in the summer of 1954 that was all to change.
The local librarian and keen angler Georgina Carberry and three friends were out on lough Fadda trout fishing in June 1954 when they decided to stop for lunch on the spit of land in the foreground of the image.
As they were settling down with their tea one of them pointed out an object moving which she assumed was a man swimming. Soon it became apparent that it was too big to be human. The mysterious object was approaching them slowly. When it got closer the girls started to worry. When it reached within twenty yards distance Georgina made the first move and jumped back, the others took cue and likewise got some distance from the water. As soon as they’d moved this creature swung right around a rock near the shore and dived. In less than two minutes it had gone practically up to the island again where it reappeared. When the creature came close to the group on shore it opened its “huge great mouth”.
The movements of the animal sacred the party so much that they went back to Clifden and sent men back out to the lake with rifles! There is a video of an interview HERE
In the subsequent years there were quite a number of sightings of strange lake creatures in Connemara, amongst which include a sighting in 1968 by Stephen Coyne in Nahooin lake, 1961 on Derrylea Lake by Tom Conneely and 1960, 1962 and 1980 in Lough Auna Tom Joyce. Along with these there were a number of other sightings, enough, in fact to attract some people that had previously hunted the Logh Ness Monster to Connemara. In this Clip Cathal O’Shannon investigates the phenomenon further for the programme ‘Newsbeat’ and visits some of the Connemara lakes where it was claimed the sightings occurred.
Captain Leslie was a member of the Lough Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau and spent five years looking for Nessy on the Scottish Loch. He came to Connemara to investigate. He committed a lot of time and resources to try and locate the creature but with no success. This episode of ‘Newsbeat’ was broadcast on 24 October 1967.
Do you have what it takes to become a monster hunter in Connemara? There is no doubt that there has been a lot of evidence that some kind of creature may exist, and the area of Connemara between Clifden, Ballyconneely and Roundstone has countless lakes which are rarely if ever visited. Even the lakes mentioned in the sightings are seldom visited apart from the odd angler. If you want to take a look a calm evening, a pair of binoculars, a map and a mobile phone is all you need been to become a monster sleuth!
( Connemara Coastal Cottages cannot take any responsibility for customers or their small dogs being consumed by monsters while hunting for them.)
Additional Links And Resources.
Interesting Podcast On Connemara Monster Hunting:HERE
An Eel in Oughterard HERE
Dick Raynor’s very interesting pages on Lake Monsters and reports of them HERE
Map image and some text courtesy Dick Raynor.