Peist

Water Horse or Freshwater Monster of Ireland.

Etymology: Irish, "monster," "reptile," or "worm." From the Latin pestis, "pest, bane." Also said to derive from the Latin bestia ("beast").

Variant names: Eel-horse, Horse-eel, Muir-dris, Oillepheist, Oillipheist ("great monster"), Payshtha more, Peiste, Piast, Sinach, Uilebheist (Scots Gaelic), Uilepheist, WURRUM.

Physical description: Eel-like. Horse's head. Distribution: Lakes and rivers in Ireland and Scotland. Also said to live in the sea, especially along the coast of Scotland and the Orkney Islands.

Significant sighting: The Oillipheist is said to have cut the route of the Shannon River when it heard that St. Patrick had come to drive it out of the land.

Sources: Thomas Crofton Croker, Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (London: John Murray, 1825-1828); Lewis Spence, The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain (London: Rider, 1945); F. W. Holiday, The Dragon and the Disc (New York: W. W. Norton, 1973); James MacKillop, Dictionary of Celtic Mythology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 339, 354, 386-387.

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