Dobharchu

A large o tterlike animal of Ireland that may be responsible for some PeisT legends or sightings of Freshwater Monsters.

Etymology: Irish, "otter," though in County Leitrim, the word is said to connote a mythical "king otter." The Irish word madra usice ("water hound") is more commonly used for the European otter.

Variant names: Anchu, Dhuraghoo, Dor-raghow, Doyarchu, King otter, Master otter, Water hound.

Physical description: Like an otter but said to

136 djinni be about five times as large (perhaps 10-15 feet). White pelt. Black ear tips. Black cross on its back.

Behavior: Aggressive and dangerous. Call is a whistling sound. Can break a rock with its snout.

Distribution: County Leitrim, Ireland.

Significant sighting: Grace (or Grainne) Connolly is said to have been killed by a Dobharchu as she washed her clothes in Glenade Lough, County Leitrim, on September 24, 1722. A gravestone in Conwall Cemetery south of Kin-lough portrays the creature as doglike, with a long tail, large paws, long neck, and short head.

Possible explanation: The European otter (Lutra lutra) can grow to a length of 4 feet 6 inches, including the tail. However, it is not particularly aggressive toward humans. Formerly common throughout Europe (including Ireland), it has been virtually eliminated through much of its range since the 1950s.

Sources: Roderick O'Flaherty, A Chorographical Description of West or H-Iar Connaught, Written A.D. 1684 (Dublin: Irish Archaeological Society, 1846), pp. 19-20; Patrick Tohall, "The Dobhar-chu Tombstones of Glenade, Co. Leitrim," Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 78 (1948): 127-129; Daithi O hOgain, Myth, Legend and Romance (London: Ryan, 1990); Karl Shuker, "In the Spotlight: The Dobhar-chu," Strange Magazine, no. 16 (Fall 1995): 32-33, 49; Karl Shuker, Mysteries of Planet Earth (London: Carlton, 1999), pp. 172-173.

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