By Paul Clarke

An eerie silence provided the perfect setting for the eagerly anticipated appearance of the Whitewood Lake Monster on a summer afternoon in 1981.

Hushed talk around the parishes of north Meath had heightened expectations. Few dared to shout aloud from the rooftops that they had seen it but, just like its more famous cousin across the sea in Scotland’s Loch Ness, there was a definite sense that this was more than a rumour designed to bolster tourist numbers.

Whitewood Lake is popular among anglers and some of those who claimed to have seen the monster in the murky distance were wise enough to know it was far too big to be a well-fed pike which had managed to evade capture over many years. This was something different and by the time of that mass gathering of believers and sceptics 43 years ago, the story had attracted widespread interest.

A man called Bert Onions had seen what he believed to be a monster-like creature many years earlier, but he chose to remain silent for fear of being ridiculed. Other local and visiting fishermen later hinted at similar sightings, but it was the more convincing assertion of Denis Naulty which really aroused interest in early summer, 1981.

“On Wednesday night I saw it from 9 pm to 9.05 pm,” he said after claiming to have witnessed the monster on a May night. “I got a fair view of it from about 70 yards range. It seemed to be about seven feet long, had a neck of about three feet in length, had a head like a goose and seems to be black or grey in colour. It is about three feet in diameter.”

They represented convincing words and Naulty was in no mood to be silenced. He was certain that he had seen something out of the ordinary and was prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to prove it.
Naulty wrote to the Department of Fisheries requesting that a team of divers be dispatched to search the lake, but his plea fell on deaf ears. With the rumour mill in overdrive, word spread all the way to Dublin that north Meath had its own monster. RTE soon took up the cause and the frenzy which followed was only matched 15 years later which the local Kilmainhamwood GAA Club won the 1996 Senior Football Championship.

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