Even though last week’s Blather popped into everyone’s mailbox without incident, this Blatherskite was not actually at the helm — yes, of course I did write it, but at the time of mailing, I was mountainbiking around Achill Island, in Co. Mayo, visiting Sraheens Lough, which made front page news in 1968 with a photograph of the alleged ‘Achill Island Monster’. Unfortunately the only copy of the photograph that I’ve come across is in the National Library in Kildare St., Dublin, on the June 1968 microfilm for the Evening Herald, and it’s totally useless when copied. My travels also took me to Sligo, where I met up with the honourable Joe Harte with whom I journeyed to the valley of Glenade in Co. Leitrim where I photographed the ‘Dobhar-ChÃº’ gravestone of a lady by the name of Grace (a.k.a. Grainne, pronounced Grawnya) McLoghlin, apparently killed by a ‘master otter’ in 1722. The gravestone features an intriguing relief of an otter showing it’s death due to a spear thrust through its body by a disembodied hand. (Thanks to Karl Shuker and Joe Harte for all their help on this matter)
From Sligo and Mayo I moved south to Kerry, where on Saturday 13th September I hiked about the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks to visit Lough Brin, another traditional Lake monster site, reported as such by W.R. Le Fanu in ‘Seventy Years of Irish life in 1893, and with sightings as recent as 1954.
Oddly enough, according to the document which I was given by the Irish Centre for UFO studies (Curiouser and Curiouser), on the 9th of August 1996, a John Redman was driving his truck on the road by Lough Brin (which is a very rough and isolated boreen with very little traffic) at about 21:00 ‘when he noticed to his left what appeared to be a big truck upside-down in the field. However as he drove by, he saw that the “truck” had a string of bright lights pointing upwards. He thought this very strange, but was also frightened by this unusual appearance, and decided to carry on driving. He made no attempt to check up on this situation. He thought a lot about it and told a few people. He describes that the “truck” was about 30 feet across with protuberances sticking out of it merged with the array of lights.’ I did see a flying object while I was in trekking through the area, albeit it was only what appeared to be a rather antiquated Bell helicopter travelling in a northerly direction. Lough Brin is about 15km north-west of Kenmare, and about 20km south-west of Killarney.
Oddly enough, today, Wednesday 17th September, Mark Pilkington of Magonia Magazine alerted me to a report in UFO Roundup of 14th September by Joseph Trainor, concerning a UFO sighting by Mr. Chris Maher and his wife on August 30th, at about 1 a.m. Just after passing through Rathmore on the Killarney – Mallow road (N72), they noticed an array of ‘hexagonal- shaped lights’ which seemed to be between 400 and 600 feet above the ground, and passed over the road, hovering over the centre line for a few minutes, before passing to the left ‘over open country’, and continued moving parallel to the car. Chris wanted to stop, but his wife insisted that they keep moving. It was a clear night, with perfect visibility. Chris described the UFO as an ‘array, whitish/light blue in colour’, which ‘seemed to be rotating in an eccentric pattern on two or more levels.’
Joseph also mentions that, ‘unknown to the Mahers at the time, the newspaper Irish Mirror had reported a sighting of glowing “flying crucifixes” over Kerrystown. (See the Irish Mirror for August 30, 1997.’ )
I would also gather that the Mahers are unaware of the recent alleged spate of sightings in the region (See the Blather archives for earlier rantings). If this is the case, it’s yet another report which has popped up independently of the Irish Centre for UFO Studies (See Archives). Other reports have been made by phone callers to the local radio station, ‘County Sound’, and a report given to a colleague of mine by a commercial traveller (Anatomy of a UFO Flap), both of which seem to suggest some possible level of authenticity to the reports.
On Sunday night, Tom Vickery and I drove to Coomhola, 5km directly north of Bantry, Co. Cork, which was the site recently used by the ICUFOS for their late night UFO vigils. I found it to be a particularly odd place to mount a nightwatch, as the viewing point is certainly no more that 30 metres above sea level, and a nearby hill, Coorycommane (174 metres) blocks the western view of Sugarloaf mountain (574 metres), the most distinctive peak in the area. The north westerly view is obscured by Cobduff (468 metres). The south western view of Bantry bay is a complicated one, and it took us a few minutes to sort out the lights showing from the various islands and peninsulas of the Bay. We could make out the twin lights of the aircraft tracking station Mount Gabriel (which was damaged in 1982 by an Irish National Liberation Army bomb, the INLA claiming that it was being used by NATO). We did see green and red flashing lights, but alas, these were only on the navigational buoys around the eastern end of Whiddy island, and some red lights could be seen around the jetty for the crude oil reserves stored on the island. The ICUFOS seemed very sure of a) the size and b) the distance of the various UFOs they reported watching, but having reconnoitred the vista, I’m not sure that gauging the distance of an ‘anomalous’ light by its apparent size or intensity can really be conclusive.
For more about anomalous lights, see the very timely article by Paul Devereux, ‘Everything You’ve always wanted to know about Earth Lights’, on page 26 of Fortean Times, issue FT103, which has just hit the shops in Ireland and Britain. If I may be so bold, I also recommend checking out the cover story ‘ManMachine – Putting Artificial Intelligence to the Test’, written by yours truly…
Dave (daev) Walsh
18th September 1997