Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009


Hiya folks,

Today I present more archival information relating to sea and lake monsters, with some information from Ireland. I just picked out a small batch of photocopied information from my Lake and Sea Monsters file and immediately found an interesting link to another collection of material I had passed on to Jon just before his famous trip to County Kerry in Ireland earlier this year.

I do remember that this information mentioned 'roaring eels.' Less familiar was the mention of a 'black man' diving for a 'carbuncle' in a lake in Co. Kerry. Now, this carbuncle was not defintion 1.

'1. An extensive skin eruption, similar to a boil, with several openings
'2. A rounded gemstone, esp. a garnet cut without facets.' (1)

It was alleged to be a kind of lake monster with similarities to definition 2. above. I quote:

'There is another jewel in the Kerry crown, an animal unique, known only there, a resplendent creature called the Carrabuncle. It is true that it has never been seen by the cold critical eye of science, but Matthew Arnold reminds us through the mouth of Empedocles that "much may still exist that is not yet believed." The Carrabuncle is mentioned in Charles Smith`s Antient and Present State of the County of Kerry, published in 1756, as having been seen in the Killarney Lakes - but he erroneosly assumed that the name he heard belonged not to an animal but to the familiar precious stone. Henry Hart, when exploring the Kerry mountains in 1883, came on its track again, this time on Brandon. He learned that its home was in Lough Veagh (Loch betha, birch lake) where the people gather fresh-water mussels for the pearls which some of them contain [and which also exist in the Cladagh River in N. Ireland]. "These come off an enormous animal called The Carrabuncle,which is often seen glimmering like silver in the water at night. This animal has gold and jewels and precious stones hanging to it, and shells galore; the inside of the shells shines with gold." Five years later, Nathaniel Colgan happened on Hart`s informant, when climbing on Brandon, and obtained further particulars (2). The true home of the Carrabuncle, it appears, is Lough Geal (Loch geal, shining lake), not Loch Veagh. His informant had never seen it, but if you could only catch it you would get some things of great value that follow after it...it is seen, it would appear, only once in seven years, and then it lights up the whole lake...But a very interesting side issue to this legend, as yet unexplained, pointed out by Colgan, arises from the reference by Alfred Russel Wallace in his Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, to the Carbunculo, a mythical animal of the Upper Amazon and Peru.Colgan was puzzled as to the connection (if any) between the Irish and the South American creature. The probable explanation of the presence of the name in these two widely separated areas lies in the fact that both regions were in intimate connection with Spain...It would seem that Carrabuncle corresponds similarly to the Spanish Carbunculo, meaning the precious stone we call carbuncle - though how the word came to be applied either in Ireland or on the Amazon to a water-monster is not clear.' (3)

So what have we here? A rare or cryptid oyster/mussel? Or did it get to Ireland via Spain or Brazil? Bear in mind the first Irish came to Eire via the Mediterranean or so I`ve heard. This book was first published in 1937 so records of it now should not be impossible to trace. Could the 'black man' have had some connection with the Amazon?

The next story is also from Kerry, but on the coast near Dingle.

'Strange legends hang around this wild and primitive coast connected with unknown monsters of the deep. "It is my belief," said a man one day, "and the belief of many,that there is no animal on land but what has its like in the sea"; and then he proceeds to tell of a strange creature which goes around the coast-line from Magharees to Brandon Head, and is called by the people the "Currane Duv," or "Black Sow." It has been seen in the memory of man - a large animal, 15 feet long, "with mane like a horse", a foot in length, which waves in the water as it swims. Sometimes it goes up river for a short distance, but its chief habitat is the sea, where it is a terror to the fisher folk! (4)

So there we are! Any opinions from Irish cryptozoologists? Ronan?

1. Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus.(2004)p.171
2. See Irish Naturalist.vol.23 p.59 1914.
3. R.L.Praeger. The Way That I Went.(1937,1939,1947,1969,etc)pp 364-366.
4. C.P.Crane. Kerry.(publication date unknown.)p.227.

As weather conditions here are still very poor, I conclude with The Storm by Big Country.

I came from the hills with a tear in my eye
The winter closed in and the crows filled the sky
The houses were burning with flames gold and red
The people were running with eyes filled with dread
Ah,my James
They didn`t have to do this
We chased them for miles I had hate in my eyes
Through forest and moors as the clouds filled the skies
The storm broke upon us with fury and flame
Both hunters and hunted washed out in the rain

1 comment:

Ego Ronanus said...

Currane Duv would be an anglicised form of crain dubh, which in Irish literally means"black sow". The creature youy describe is rather more like Irish lake monsters than sea monsters.