Ireland’s Hound of Deep – Dobhar Chu

However, of all sightings of Dobahr Chu, it is account in Glenade, County Leitrim of 1722 of bestial murder of Grace McGloighlin that is most famous. Oral tradition in this part of Ireland still holds that story of The Dobhar Chu of Glenade is true. This is story as related by local storyteller Owen McGowan of townland of Ahanlish, Kinlough, Co. Leitrim.

Grace McGloighlin, known as Grace or Gráinne Connolly (custom at time was that a woman retains her maiden name after marriage), lived in town land of Creevelea which is close to border of Leitrim and Sligo, and on northwestern part of Glenade Lake. On September 22nd 1722, Grace came down to lake to baand perhaps wash some clothes. While she was doing this a huge monster emerged from water and savagely attacked, then killed Grace. She was later found by her husband Terence. Terence saw her bloodied body on side of lake and to his horror saw huge beast which had killed his wife lying asleep across her dead body. Heart-broken with grief and furious, Terence knew at once that it was a Dobhar Chu.

Terence immediately found his dagger and killed monster. However, as is usual with this kind of creature, during its death throes it let out a high-pitched whistle which alerted its mate to what was happening. A second Dobhar Chu emerged at once from depths of lake. Terrified, Terence took to his heels and jumping on a horse began to ride for his life as second Dobhar Chu pursued him. Terence rode for many miles, with Dobhar Chu close behind him. A local man, Patrick Doherty (now deceased), told historian and folklorist Joe McGowan story of chase. It started at Frank McSharry’s of Glenade, faltered and ended close by Cashelgarron stone fort in Co. Sligo at a blacksmith’s forge.

After being chased for miles Terence was obliged to stop to have his horse’s foot re-shod. The blacksmith at Cashelgarron, a wise man, knew ways of this creature. He gave Terence a sword and told him: “When creature charges, he’ll put his head right through horse. As soon as he does this, you be quick and cut his head off.” Terence, still on his horse stood his ground near forge. The huge beast came at full charge then it put its head right through horse, as predicted by blacksmith. This time, however, Terence was ready. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder Terence put his sword through Dobhar Chu’s head, killing it instantly.

There is further ghoulish detail to back up story. The grave of Grace Connolly actually exists. What’s more, carved on her tombstone is a detailed depiction of her killer, Dobhar Chu. It is located in Conwall cemetery in townland of Drummans. Drummans near village of Kinlough is part of approach to Valley of Glenade. The tomb itself is so old that most of written details are illegible. However, Grace’s name and that of her husband can be made out. The carved image of Dobhar Chu is much clearer. The creature is depicted lying down with its head and neck flung backwards so that it lies flat along its back in its death throes. A spear-like weapon is shown piercing base of creature’s neck, reemerging below its body, and gripped by a human fist at its upper end. Also and less well known, both Dobhar Chu and McGloighlin’s horse are buried in Co. Sligo, not far from Cashelgarron stone fort where they were both killed.


– Rachel Rafferty


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