The Doyarchu is known by several names such as the dobhar-chu or the anchu and is described as an aquatic predator haunting the rivers and lakes in
An early description of the Dobhar-chú appears in A Description of West Connaught (1684), by Roderick O'Flaherty. This story, originating from the area of Lough Mask, is recounted:
There is one rarity more, which we may term the Irish crocodile, whereof one, as yet living, about ten years ago had sad experience. The man was passing the shore just by the waterside, and spyed far off the head of a beast swimming, which he took to be an otter, and took no more notice of it; but the beast it seems lifted up his head, to discern whereabouts the man was; then diving swam under the water till he struck ground: whereupon he run out of the water suddenly and took the man by the elbow whereby the man stooped down, and the beast fastened his teeth in his pate, and dragged him into the water; where the man took hold of a stone by chance in his way, and calling to mind he had a knife in his jacket, took it out and gave a thrust of it to the beast, which thereupon got away from him into the lake. The water about him was all bloody, whether from the beast's blood, or his own, or from both he knows not. It was the pitch of an ordinary greyhound, of a black slimey skin, without hair as he imagines. Old men acquainted with the lake do tell there is such a beast in it, and that a stout fellow with a wolf dog along with him met the like there once; which after a long struggling went away in spite of the man and his dog, and was a long time after found rotten in a rocky cave of the lake when the waters decreased. The like they say is seen in other lakes in
Mr Richard Muirhead of
In 1896, Miss L.A. Walkington wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland of a legend she had heard in Bundoran, County Leitrim, of a creature called a dhuragoo, which she said was "half wolf-dog, half-fish". Some witnesses, she said, likened it to an "enormous sea-otter". A few months later, H. Chichester Hart responded to Miss Walkington's letter, and said that he had heard in Ballyshannon, Leitrim, of a creature called the dorraghow, which was said to be the King of all the Lakes, and Father of all the Otters. Hart said it was "as big as five or six otters".
There appear to be no recent sightings but could giant otters or freshwater crocodiles once lived in