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Cryptids

Dobhar-Chu – The Ireland’s Water Monster

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Dobhar-chu also known as Doyarchu or Dobhar-choe (Dobharchú) is a large other like animal of Ireland that may be responsible for some sightings of Freshwater Monsters. The word is said to have connoted a mythical “king otter.”

The Irish word ‘madra usice’ (water hound) is more commonly used for the European otter. It also has various names such as Anchu, Dhuraghoo, Dorraghow. The creature physical appearance is like an otter but said to be about five times as large with white pelt, black ear tips and black cross on its back.

Its behavior is aggressive and dangerous. When Doyarchu is in danger it can call other water hound with a whistling sound. It also can break a rock with its snout. Doyarchu appears both in folklore and in various first-person accounts from the earlier centuries. Even though no longer reported, this creature was once considered a real and dangerous inhabitant of the Irish landscape.

In 1684, a book entitled ‘A Description of West or H-Lar Connaught’ was published. It tells the frightening story of Roderick O’Flaherty that happened at a lake in the west of Ireland called the Lough Mask:

“There is one rarity more, which we may term the Irish crocodile, where of, as yet living, about ten years ago had sad experience.

The man was passing the shore just by the waterside, and spied far off the head of a beast swimming, which he took to be an otter, and took no more notice of it, but the beast it seems lifted up his head, to discern whereabouts the man was; then diving swam under the water till he struck ground; whereupon he run out of the water suddenly and took the man by the elbow whereby the man stooped down, and the beast fastened his teeth in his pate [head], and dragged him into the water; where[upon] the man took hold of a stone by chance in his way, and calling to mind he had a knife in his jacket, took it out and gave it a thrust of it to the beast, which thereupon got away from him into the lake.

The water about them was all bloody, whether from the beast’s blood, or his own, or from both he knows not. It was the pitch of an ordinary greyhound, of a black slimey skin, without hair as he imagines.

Old men acquainted with the lake do tell there is such a beast in it, and that a stout fellow with a wolf dog along with him met the like there once, which after a long struggling went away in spite of the man and his dog, and was a long time after found rotten in a rocky cave of the lake where the waters decreased. The like they say is seen in other lakes in Ireland; they call it Doyarchu, i.e.water-dog, or anchu which is the same.”

Doyarchu also appeared in the poem “The Old House,” within a 1950’s anthology, “Further Poems”, by Leitrim poetess Katherine A. Fox. The lines read:

The story told of dobhar-chú

That out from Glenade Lake

Had come one morning years ago

A woman’s life to take…

It described the incidents which occurring two centuries ago, features a man called McGloughlan who lived with his wife Grace Connoly near to the shore of Glenade Lake, County Leitrim.

The evidence of Doyarchu from that poem can be found in a gravesite of Glenade, on the north side of Ben Bulben mountain, where a woman named Grace is buried. Her tombstone dated on September 24, 1722, and the interesting part, it portrays a carving of an otterlike creature being impaled by a spear.

Based on local lore, she was a victim of a water hound. She lived in a village with her husband. On that day, she washed her clothes near the lake. When she did not return, her husband went out to look for her. He was horrified when he found her wife is already dead and also shocked to see a water hound sleeping atop her bloody corpse.

The man returned to the house looking for a weapon, also asked his friend to help him to deal with the creature and retrieved a knife, which he then plunged into the creature’s heart. Just before the creature died, it gave out a whistling sound that alerted the other water hound nearby.

They fled on horseback, while the creature chasing behind them. When they realized that they could not shake it, they decided to confront it. It ran under one of the horses as it made to attack the men, but one of them was able to stab it to death before it could harm them.

In May 24, 1996, other water hound sightings occurs outside Ireland in Magalia, a small town in northern California. That morning, Sheila Charles was driving her son Shane to school when an otterlike creature suddenly darted out in front of her car. Swerving to avoid it, she lost control of the car and suffered an accident, fortunately resulted in no serious injuries.

She said that the creature’s appearance 4-5 feet long, generally doglike with reptilian eyes but with a sleek serpentine head set on a slender thirty-inch neck. It was covered with shaggy black fur or hair. Its hind limbs were long, its front limbs notably shorter, and it had no tail. The driver of the car behind Charles’s also saw the creature.

Dr. Daithi o’ hOgain described in his book “Myth, Legend and Romance: An Encyclopedia of the Irish Folk Tradition” (1990) as a large male otter called the king otter with its black ear tips and a black cross upon its back, and the creature never slept. Similar with werewolf legend, this one could only be killed with a silver bullet, and the killer would die no longer than 24 hours afterwards.

It is nearly impossible to verified these accounts, because they are not purely legend. They only share a little information about the creature’s appearance, and it bore at least a resemblance to an otter. Until now the existence of Doyarchu is still shrouded in mystery.

Sources: Mysterious Creature: “A Guide to Cryptozoology” by George M. Eberhart;nThe Beasts That Hide from Man: “Seeking the World’s Last Undiscovered Animals” by Karl Shuker; Unexplained: “Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurences & Puzzling Physical Phenomena” by Jerome Clark

Cryptids

The Awful

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The Awful cryptid as described by Vermont residents in 1925

In 1923, several residents of Berkshire and Richford, Vermont reported seeing a creature resembling a griffin, with a 20 foot wingspan and a serpentine tail.

“The Awful” Cryptid Sightings of 1925

Berkshire and Richford, Vermont are peaceful countryside towns located between Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog, near the Canadian Province of Quebec.

In 1925 several residents of these towns reported encounters with an unusual flying creature.

The creature was described as being similar to the mythical Griffin, with a grayish color, a 20-foot wingspan, a snake-like tail, and big claws capable of holding a medium sized dog. These strange sightings caused panic among the locals who came to dub the creature “the Awful”.

The first sightings of the mysterious creature were reported by two sawmill workers in Richford. As they crossed the main street bridge, they saw a very large beast on the nearby rooftop of the Boright building, glaring at them. According to the tale, one of the men was so scared that he had a heart attack out of fear. He had to be carried home but eventually recovered. However, for weeks afterward, he had nightmares about the creature, waking up his family with screams during the night.

In the following months, locals kept reporting sightings of this mysterious creature, causing fear and panic among residents. Farmers shared stories of it flying over their fields, and others saw it landing on their house rooftops. One resident, Oella Hopkins, experienced this when she was hanging laundry outside. The family dog got upset and started barking, and when Oella looked, she saw the creature, known as The Awful, perched on her farmhouse roof, staring at her. Terrified, Oella ran inside and hid under her bed for hours.

Later Sightings of “The Awful”

By the end of 1925, sightings of the creature became less frequent and almost stopped completely by 1928. Even though people thought it had disappeared, some locals claimed to see it every now and then since the 1920s. One such person was Lisa Maskell from Montgomery, who said she spotted the creature near Trout River when she was a child. When she saw a drawing of a pterodactyl later on, she thought it looked like the creature she saw and believed it resembled The Awful.

In 2006, there were a few new reports suggesting that The Awful might have returned to Northern Vermont. In October 2006, a person wrote in the County Courier about a respected person in Richford who saw the creature suddenly appear and grab a big black crow from a pine tree. The witness was surprised and said the creature flew around his house three times.

After this article, more people shared sightings. A woman remembered seeing the monster when she was about ten. It was in a tree near the Trout River, watching them with its strange beak, reminding her of a pterodactyl.

A dowser named Edith Green said people in Richford have been nervous about the creature for a long time.

An older man mentioned that the creature has been seen often in the Gibou area for the past 25 years, even recently. Locals usually leave it alone, and it leaves them alone, with a few exceptions.

A resident of East Richford said the creature has been spotted recently around the Slide Road area. He mentioned you can often hear it before seeing it, making a strange, low screaming sound and the flapping of its large wings when it’s close.

Despite its scary appearance, the creature was never known to attack people; it seemed more like it was just watching. There’s one account mentioning it flying over Berkshire Field near Lost Nation Road and appearing to hold a baby or a small animal, although it’s more likely to have been an animal.

William DeFalco covers the story of The Awful

Possible Explanations for the Awful

Assuming the reports of the Awful are not just a hoax or an old wives tale what else could be going on here? It’s possible that soe type of rare, large bird is lurking in the wilds of Vermont and is only seen very rarely due to a lack of numbers. The Awful could simple have been a particularly large owl or Eagle.

If paranormal in origin, the Awful does bear a small resemblence to the Mothman of West Virginia. Perhaps it continues to lurk in the shadows, waiting to come our and warn residents of impending doom.

What do you think about the Awful? Tell us your theories in the comments.

If you enjoyed learning about the Awful you might also be interested in the Lechuza, a strange owl-like creature or the Prime Hook Swamp Monster.

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Cryptids

Eric Shipton Discovers Possible yeti Footprints on Mount Everest

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In the fall of 1951, English mountain climbers Eric Shipton and Dr. Michael Ward were exploring routes to climb Mount Everest from Nepal. While on this mission Shipton discovered some huge footprints in the snow, possibly belonging to the fabled Yeti.

The strange footprints discovered on Mount Everest by Eric Shipton, Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Eric Shipton’s Everest Expedition

Eric Shipton’s expedition team including Edmund Hillary who later became the first man to reach the summit of Everest. Photo: Curious Archive

In 1951, when Mount Everest wasn’t a busy tourist spot, two English mountain climbers, Eric Shipton and Dr. Michael Ward, joined a trip to figure out how to reach Everest’s summit from Nepal. Shipton led the expedition, and their discoveries helped plan the successful climb by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. This expedition not only mapped the way up the tallest mountain but also marked a return to climbing after a pause during World War II.

The Yeti Footprints

At an altitude of around 15-16,000 feet, Shipton and Ward came across an unusual sight – a set of strange footprints in the snow in the Menlung Basin. Because they didn’t have proper tools to measure the footprints, they improvised using an ice pick, a backpack, and Michael Ward’s left boot. Shipton took photos as they closely examined what they found.

In one photo, comparing the boot to a footprint(below), it was evident that the print was much wider than a normal human foot, almost twice as wide, as Ward estimated. The footprint’s toes looked strange, with the big toe being lower and larger than expected for a human. It raised questions about how someone could walk in the snow without foot protection in freezing temperatures, even if it was a human print.

The photo of the Yeti footprint with Shipton’s Boot on Everest

Perplexed, Shipton and Ward tracked the mysterious footprints down the glacier for about a mile until they set up camp for the night. A few days later, their teammates W. H. Murray and Tom Bourdillon joined them and examined the peculiar footprints. Bourdillon noted in his diary that the prints had become somewhat distorted by the sun by the time he reached them, but he still found them surprising and unexplained.

After the photos were published, several expeditions took place in the Himalayas and Central Asia to determine if the creature in Shipton’s photographs actually existed. However, no evidence was found to prove the existence of the Yeti. Some accused Shipton of staging a hoax, but others who had seen the footprints vouched for the authenticity of Shipton’s photographs.

Possible Explanations for the Footprints

Deformed Humans

While the footprints could be evidence of Yeti living in the Himalayas there are a number of other theories about where these footprints could have come from.

Dr. Michael Ward, a medical doctor who was a part of Shipton’s expedition had an interesting theory about the footprints. He believed that the footprints could have been made by a local Tibetan with differently-shaped feet. In communities without easy access to medical help, foot abnormalities from birth might remain.

Dr Ward had seen Tibetans with deformed feet and some who walked with bare feet in the snow.

One case occurred during the Silver Hut Expedition in 1960-1961, which stayed at 19,000ft in the Everest region during the winter. A 35-year-old Nepalese pilgrim named Man Bahadur, who usually lived at 6000ft, visited. He spent 14 days at 15,300ft and above, not wearing shoes or gloves throughout. He walked in the snow and on rocks with bare feet without getting frostbite. He had minimal clothing and no sleeping bag or protective gear except a woolen coat.

He was monitored for four days without shelter between 16,500ft and 17,500ft, with temperatures as low as -13°C to -15°C at night and below freezing during the day. Eventually, he developed cracks in his toe skin, which became infected, and he went to lower levels for treatment. If any European members of the group had followed the same routine, they would likely have suffered severe frostbite and hypothermia.

Bears

Yeti researcher Daniel C. Taylor believes he has convincingly proven that Yeti prints are made by Asiatic Black bears standing on their hind legs. He has recreated the footprints in the snow using casts from a black bear and believes them to be very similar.

Taylor believes that the long footprints in the snow from 1951 were made by the Asiatic black bear, known as Ursus thibetanus. When the bear put its front paw down, it didn’t press too hard into the snow, so the claws on the front paw didn’t leave clear marks. After that, the hind paw landed on the back part of the print, stretching it to about twelve inches in length.

The Nepalese Legend of the Yeti

Certain local Sherpas think that the Himalayas are home to unusual beings, and they view the Yeti (also commonly called the “abominable snowman”) as a guardian. On the other hand, some believe it to be a threat.

“There is a kind of mysterious creature that lives in the Himalayas,” explained Ang Tshering Sherpa, leader of the Nepal Mountaineering Association in Katmandu, who is from the Khumbu region.

Bob Gymlan discuses why he believes the footprints found by Eric Shipton are evidence of the existence of Yeti

Do you think there are Yeti in the Himalayas? Tell us your theories in the comments!

If you enjoyed this article you might also be interested in a child lost in the woods that was protected by a bigfoot or a bigfoot that was hit by a train.

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