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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Lough Dubh Monster, The Irish Hogzilla?

Map of Ireland Above. Lough Dubh Below

Lough Dubh or Black Lake is a popular fishing venue by the River Suck in the Upper Shannon River Drainage, and which was the scene of a possible monster sighting in the early 1960s. A creature was hooked by Mr Mullaney (a schoolmaster) and his son while out fishing. Described as having "short thick legs with small ears and a white pointed horn on the snout. It was dark grey in colour, and covered with bristles or short hair, like a pig." It was said to be the size of a cow or an ass and to be aggressive. This sighting was mentioned in Peter Costello’s In Search of Lake Monsters (1974) and has been a point of contention ever since. Other creatures like it were said to have been seen later on, and some others like it in other areas said to run back to 1912.

Lough Dubh Monster

After some wrangling over the point and in response to an anonymous posting at one
of Karl Shuker's blog postings (suggesting a hippopotamus as a possible culprit), the easiest and most economic solution would seem to be that it was a feral boar hog, probably mixed feral domestic and wild boar hog. For one thing, whenever there is mention of a white or ivory horn on the snout it means a tusk, since ivory is what teeth are made out of and horns are made out of something else. This point turns up also in discussions of the "congo dragons" said to have "ivory horns", which must also be regarded as references to tusks. The anonymous commentator suggested that if it was only one tusk that was seen instead of a horn, then it could have been a hippopotamus as well as a rhinoceros. And I replied then that a hog would be closely related to a hippo and more likely to turn up in Ireland. It could have been a feral pig wallowing on the mud bank that took the bait when a tasty morsel presented itself. Swine are also opportunistic omnivores, which none of the other candidates would be. None of the other candidates would have taken the bait.

Wild Hog Wallowing

It would have been an enormous, ugly hog but that is not out of the range of possibility. The schoolteacher's reference to size was ambiguous, saying as big as a cow or an ass: an ass is a much smaller animal than a cow. And there are similar reports of "water pigs" in parts of the Midwestern USA where there are definitely feral hogs running loose in the area. Some wild pigs are good swimmers and many like to wallow in the water to cool off.

400 pound wild boar/feral cross hog at Gopher Plantations, a hunting reserve. The record hogs at the Plantation are almost three times this size.

Hunter with killed hog at Gopher Plantations, showing off the tusks.

Wild Boar Wading in muddy waters.

1 comment:

  1. I remember reading this story in Costello's book as a lad. It quite put me off night fishing for a while...

    Anyway, I've just come across your site and I wanted to say thanks and well done. There is a lot of crypto nonsense on the web, but your articles are informed and informative, with sound thinking and proper research.

    Keep up the good work and the high standards!


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