Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Irish Sea Monster


County Clare Sea Monster

A sea monster spotted several times during the nineteenth century near the coast of County Clare Ireland was reported to have a head like a horse, a mane of seaweed, and a large body which was hidden under the water.

The Irish Times  newspaper reported that a ‘monster’ was the subject of various reported sightings in the 19th-century, including one in 1850 when it was seen, improbably, “sunning itself near the Clare coast off Kilkee”.

In 1850, the Limerick Chronicle reported: “In September it was reported that a sea monster had been sighted near Bishop’s Island, and this was regarded by the superstitious as a certain ill omen. In the following week a Miss Evans, a visitor, disappeared after having been seen walking towards the cliffs.”

An account of the sea monster's appearance was featured in a newspaper article in the Victorian publication, The Day's Doings on 21 October 1871.The paper reported that there had been "some excitement" in Kilkee at the appearance of the "extraordinary marine visitor".It appeared before a "party of strangers, composed of several ladies and some gentlemen", one of whom was a well-known clergyman in the "north of Ireland", when they went down to "Diamond Rocks".They were watching the heavy ground swell from the Atlantic when their "attention was arrested by the appearance of an extraordinary monster who rose from the surface of the water" about 70 yards from where they were standing.The sea monster remained for "some minutes" before it "vanished in the same mysterious way that it had come".In a bid to understand more about this "extraordinary animal", the paper quotes the "renowned living naturalist" Philip Henry Gosse.Gosse's own opinion, "formed after a mature deliberation" of the evidence, was that there "were existing still some specimens of a nearly extinct race of sea monster".He concluded that the sea monster seen in Kilkee possessed "close affinities" with the fossil of an extinct group of marine reptiles known as Enaliosauria.

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.”

In more recent times:

7 MAY 2017 A fisherman has told of how he caught a monster 1,500lbs shark - the biggest ever in Europe - off the coast of Ireland on Thursday.Ben Bond, aged 26, spent 90 minutes struggling to reel in the deadly 25ft long sixgill shark after it took his bait off the coast of Clare.He was on a three day fishing trip to Carrigaholt with friend Ben Carter when he made the catch.The beast was eventually bought close to the 40ft long fishing boat Ben was on.After releasing the sixgill safe and well, exhausted Ben, from Ilchester in England made it back to port and celebrated with pint of beer.

Though the shark was a monster it could hardly be mistaken for the creature with a horse’s head described as seen in 1800s.What the creature was remains a mystery.

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