Europe

Picture of Irish sea monster surfaces in London image archive

  • 10 August 2015
  • From the section Europe
The image of the "extraordinary marine visitor" appeared in the Victorian publication, The Days' Doings Image copyright Mary Evans Picture Library
Image caption The image of the "extraordinary marine visitor" appeared in the Victorian publication, The Days' Doings

A picture of County Clare's equivalent to the Loch Ness monster has surfaced in a London image archive.

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 paper quotes that it had "an enormous head, shaped somewhat like a horse, while behind the head and the neck was a huge mane of seaweed-looking hair which rose and fell with the motion of the water".

'Gigantic creature'

"It's eyes were large and glaring, and, by the appearance of the water behind, a vast body seemed to be beneath the waves," the article stated.

The party were unable to judge its length but they all agreed it was the "most gigantic creature they had ever seen".

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.

The Day's Doings ends the article by concluding that it believed it was the "first time that one of these strange sea monsters has been seen on the coasts of the British Isles, and much excitement has been caused by its appearance in this particular neighbourhood".

The article was found in the Mary Evans picture library, which she co-founded with her husband Hilary.

He was a pictorial archivist and keen collector of UFOs and other paranormal phenomena, including sea monsters.