very own monster
Lake cant be compared with Loch Ness in any shape
or form. That great expanse of water in Inverness in Scotland
is more than 22 miles long and the best part of 1,000 feet
deep, while the popular fishing lake near Kilmainhamwood
in north Meath is nothing more than a splash of water on
the map of Ireland by comparison.
By Paul Clarke.
Yet these two lakes - one very famous the world over and
a huge tourist attracting and the other best known to pike
anglers as a good spot to reel in a big one
- have far more in common than the average man, woman or
child might ever imagine.
The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie as she has
become fondly known, is part of Scottish folklore and, whether
she exists or has simply been a figment of many imaginations
over a long number of years, there can be no denying that
she has been very good to the economy of that country.
She is believed to have been born in 1933 and
such has been the wealth of publicity generated by the many
alleged sightings that she has generated an enormous amount
of revenue by attracting visitors from every part of the
Nessie has attained the status of a classic
phenomenon and her popularity has never been greater. Numerous
features in magazines and newspapers have helped to enhance
her reputation and fame and she has also been the subject
of many documentaries and films as more and more people
take the opportunity to cash in on her status. She is, without
fear of contradiction, the best known cryptozoological creature
in the world.
So whats all that got to do with Whitewood Lake? How
can there possibly be a link between a world famous stretch
of water that forms a link in the great Caledonian Canal
in Scotland and little Whitewood Lake in the north of our
own county where the vast majority of people believe large
pike specimens are the biggest creatures to be found?
Well there is - even if its probably not the strongest
link of all time. For, in the minds of some, particularly
back approximately a quarter of a century ago, Whitewood
Lake had its own monster which captured the imaginations
of many. And it wasnt just the very young or those
who had a habit of believing in fairies and such like with
a few pints of lager on board who expected the creature
to spring from the depths back in the summer of 1981.
Even this writer has to admit that, as he stood with hundreds
of others totally sober on the lake shore on a warm summer
day over 25 years ago, he at least half expected something
extraordinary to happen. It must have been a bit like waiting
for a statue to move! But statues wont bite you, even
if they do move. However, theres a good chance that
a monster will!
Even RTE, fascinated by the amazing stories emanating from
the Royal County, sent a film crew out into the country
that day in anticipation of an appearance. It was probably
as far away from the Capital as some of them had ever ventured.
The late Vincent Hanley was the main man who asked the leading
questions of those who claimed to have seen it. It was convincing
stuff - even the greatest sceptics on the planet could have
been forgiven for thinking that there really was something
in Whitewood Lake other than an overly large pike which
had managed to evade capture down through the years.
Recalling that day by the lake all these years later, there
appeared to be a hushed, eerie silence among the large gathering,
as if to remain quiet in case the monster might hear you
and decide not to make its hoped for appearance on this
potentially historic day for north Meath. Or was there a
certain fear or foreboding among some? After all, monsters
Alas, after several hours in the sun, the lake shore was
eventually drained of people as the mass assembly of monster
spotters - many of them members of the media - headed home
in a state of disillusionment. It had all been a load of
rubbish. We had been conned into believing something ridiculous,
something outlandish. After all, like fairies, creatures
similar to the one allegedly witnessed in Whitewood Lake
only exist in the imagination. There was no monster to be
seen in the water near Kilmainhamwood - not on that particular
But that doesnt necessarily mean that there wasnt
something out of the ordinary in the lake that day. Maybe
it was hiding - camera shy perhaps! There were people in
attendance that summer day who wouldnt allow themselves
to be convinced that the Whitewood Lake Monster didnt
exist. Sure, hadnt they seen it with their own two
eyes, or at least spoke to somebody who had witnessed it.
Interest had grown considerably earlier in the summer when
a man out doing a spot of fishing on a chilly May night
pondered whether to call a halt to his activities as the
fishing wasnt great. But suddenly, there it was across
the water from him - the Monster! Stories about the creature
had been doing the rounds in the locality for many years,
but the vast majority of people had dismissed them as pure
fantasy and workings of over-active imaginations.
However, the Whitewood Lake Monster seemed very real on
that early summer evening over a quarter of a century ago
- very real indeed.
"On Wednesday night I saw it from 9 pm to 9.05 pm,"
the man who witnessed it at first hand related at the time.
"I got a fair view of it from about 70 yards range.
It seemed to be about seven feet long, has a neck of about
three feet in length, has a head like a goose and seems
to be black or grey in colour. It is about three feet in
That clearly represented a very good description of the
creature and, at a length of approximately seven feet, a
neck of about three feet and a diameter of much the same
size, it simply couldnt have been a pike. Big fish
have been landed in this region, but a pike seven feet long
- never. You would need some rod and line and a lot of human
strength to reel that one in!
So, the only logical explanation is that it had to be a
monster - the same monster that had been talked about in
the past and which so many people had been unconvinced about.
But it begs a number of questions: Where did the monster
come from and how did it find its way into Whitewood Lake?
How many years had it been swimming around in Whitewood
Lake? Were its parents in Whitewood Lake before it? Did
it have brothers and sisters?
Did it have brothers and sisters? Perhaps that should be,
does it have brothers and sisters? Whose to say the Whitewood
Lake Monster (or monsters) isnt still there somewhere
in the murky depths contemplating when to make its next
public appearance - still hiding as it was that May day
in 1981 and still camera shy!