In Pursuit of the Peiste and Ireland’s
Other Mysterious Creatures
“There are marten cats and badgers and foxes in the enchanted woods but there are of a certainty, mightier creatures, and the lake hides what neither line nor net can take.”
-William Bulter Yeats, The Celtic Twilight
Mighty creatures, the likes of which no mere line nor net can take, have longed been reputed to inhabit lakes and rivers throughout Ireland. Across the bog lands of Connemara horse-eels kept children and turf cutters alike far from the shoreline in the evening. In the mountains of Kerry wurrums were said to presided over lakes and pools. Lakes in County Mayo were once reputed to harbor the murderous dobhar-chu. And throughout the Shannon lurked powerful peistes; capable of tearing nets apart and towing helpless fishermen. Such beasts were at times revered as deities, detested as pests; captured by accident in some instances and sought out and killed in others. No matter what degree of familiarity farmers and fishermen may have held of them it was never enough to warrent formal recognition amongst the acedemic community.
From time to time newspapers report of a sighting of what was taken to be a strange beast, usually by a visitor or tourist at particular lake or river. A vague allusion may be made to previous stories or traditions suggesting such incidences are by no means a recent phenomenon. Yet in spite of their implications, such stories seldom are followed up upon leaving the topic to settle back into the colorful cache of the many Irish mysteries that show no sign of being solved any time soon. But as Yeats indicated, these creatures, though mysterious and often surrounded by fanicful folklore, would be as natural to the various waters they lurk beneath as are the woodland animals that make their homes in the forests
This website is part of an ongoing laymen effort to actively explore the prospect of the continual existence of unrecognized species within Ireland. The majority of data presented is sourced from the on-site investigations by the late F.W. Holiday and Captain Lionel Leslie as well as the in depth research conducted by Dublin author Peter Costello. Also included are new findings made available through the field investigations of the site’s authors, Gary Cunningham of Newry and Nick Sucik of Arizona.