Lough Ree, formally Loch Ribh, is located in the midlands of Ireland and is the second largest of three lakes in the region. The lough supports a small commercial eel fishery which makes the area locally famous for its Eels on Wheels trucks. Lough Ree is also locally famous as the home of the Lough Ree Monster, a beast which has been sighted in the lake for centuries and may be at the center of one of the most credible lake monster sightings ever documented.
On May 18, 1960, Father Richard Quigly, Father Matthew Burke and Father Daniel Murray were enjoying a peaceful day of fishing on the shores of Lough Ree in Meath County, when one of the men noticed an unusual object roughly 100 yards away. According to the men the creature’s length from the end of the coil to its head was 6 feet and roughly18 inches of head and neck appeared out of the water. The head and neck were narrow in comparison to the thickness of a good sized salmon and it received its propulsion from a source they could not see under the water.
The testimony of these three clergy men was more than enough to give credibility to the existence of the Lough Ree Monster and local newspapers soon picked up on the story, including The Westmeath Independent which published an article entitled Lough Ree Monster Sighted! on May 28, 1960. Also picking up on the story was the BBC which went international with the sighting and published it in multiple languages. Recognizing the importance of their sighting the three released the following detailed report to the Inland fisheries Trust:
There were two sections above the water; a forward section of uniform girth, stretching quite straight out of the water and inclined at the plane of the surface at about 30 °, in length about 18-24 inches. The diameter of this long leading section we would estimate to be about 4 inches. At its extremity which we took to be a serpent-like head, it tapered rather abruptly to a point.
Between the leading and the following sections of this creature, there intervened about two feet of water. The second section seemed to us to be a tight, roughly semi-circular loop. This portion could have been a hump or a large knob on the back of a large body under the surface that was being propelled by flippers. As to the dimensions of this section, if a loop we should say the girth of a large fifteen pound salmon; if however, a round hump. . . we should put its base at about 18 inches. . . We would estimate the overall length to the two visible sections, measured along the surface from tip of snout to end of hump, at about 6 feet.
The movement along the water was steady. There was no apparent disturbance of the surface, so that propulsion seemed to come from a well-submerged portion of the creature. There was no undulation of its body above the water. It was cruising at a very leisurely speed, and was apparently unconcerned about our presence. We watched it moving along the surface for a period of two or three minutes in a north-easterly direction. It was going towards the shore; then it submerged gradually rather than dived, and disappeared from view completely. Another couple of minutes later it reappeared still following the same course. . . It reached a point 30 yards offshore, where it submerged and we saw it no more…
Skeptics where quick to shoot down this sighting and offered up some varied theories to explain what the three men saw that day, some of which include inline swimming otters, a row of ducks or a configuration of several pike entangled upon a hook line. While the doubtful continued attempting to debunk the creature as a case of misidentification the locals of Lough Ree did not take long to come forward with sightings and encounters of their own.
Some of which included the story of two men who while walking along the shore of St. Mark’s Bay one evening saw what appeared to be a calf swimming in the water. The two men rushed down a near by boat dock in an attempt to rescue the calf but as they approached the animal submerged beneath the surface Also in the charts of the River Shannon there is a spot labeled, unidentified snag, located in an area of water known to be 70 feet deep. The seemingly out of place label was the result of a cabin cruiser striking an unidentified object in the middle of the channel, the spot was later dragged but nothing was found.
Retired postman, Paddy Hanley, added his own encounter with the Lough Ree Monster to the growing collection of reports. He stated that, 30 years before the priests’ sighting, he was fishing just north of Yew Point at the mouth of Bally Bay when something powerful grabbed his line. Hanley found himself being dragged around the lake until he was finally able to sever the line. Similar encounters were reported by a man named F.J. Walters and another by two English tourists.
Local fisherman Patrick Ganley and Joseph Ouigly, two months prior to the priests’ sighting, battled it out with a huge unknown creature that had entered their pike net. The two could not make out the beasts size as it thrashed about sending columns of water a reported 6 feet into the air. The two stated that what ever they had caught was as strong as a horse and upon escaping left a nine foot hole in their net.
The amount of credible sightings associated with the Lough Ree Monster lead a three man team, representing GUST, the Global Underwater Search Team, to conduct a 5 day expedition to Lough Ree in June of 2001. Through surface monitoring and the use of a hydrophone the team, lead by GUST founder Jan Sundberg, searched for any indications of a large creature living in the lough.
Two events transpired over their 5 day expedition that had possible relevance to the Lough Ree Monster, the first was an odd sound picked up by Jan Sandberg himself while using the hydrophone. Jan stated that the sound was very similar to sounds he had previously heard while leading an expeditions in Norway. The second was an observation by Jan, and several other members of the team, involving a small, dark tube like object seen swimming away from a small island that appeared to be propelled by something beneath the water. Sadly this expedition came up empty handed and no further scientific investigations into the Lough Ree Monster have been conducted, yet.
There is currently no physical evidence to suggest the existence of a large unknown creature living in Lough Ree.
One evening while walking along the shore of St. Mark’s Bay two men claimed to have seen what appeared to be a calf swimming in the water. Upon rushing down a boat dock to save it, the animal submerged beneath the surface.
Retired postman, Paddy Hanley, stated that he was fishing just north of Yew Point at the mouth of Bally Bay, when something powerful grabbed his line. Hanley found himself being dragged around the lake until he was finally able to sever his line.
Local fisherman Patrick Ganley and Joseph Ouigly reportedly battled it out with a huge unknown creature that had entered their pike net. The two could not make out the beasts size through its thrashing that reportedly sent up columns of water over 6 feet into the air.
On May 18, 1960, Father Richard Quigly, Father Matthew Burke and Father Daniel Murray were enjoying a peaceful day of fishing on the shores of Lough Ree in Meath County, when one of the men noticed an unusual object roughly 100 yards away.
The Stats– (Where applicable)
• Classification: Lake Monster
• Size: Unknown
• Weight: Unknown
• Diet: Unknown
• Location: Lough Ree, Ireland
• Movement: Swimming
• Environment: Lough