Alot of legends surround Gougane Barra and its lake. It was here in the lake that Saint Finbarr
chased off Lú, Gougan Barra Dragon. A dragon or a sea monster like Nessie, the legends vary in their descriptions. The creature’s expulsion is believed to be the source of the large channel that is now the River Lee flowing west to the sea at Cork City. A little sea monster is memorialized in the hedge along the isle’s road. Saint Finbarr was also believed to have been led by an angel from the source of the river Lee at his monastic site to its marshy mouth where he built a monastery “out of which grew the Sea and the City of Cork”.
Saint Patrick was also reputed of slaying a dragon in Irish Mythology albeit depicted as a giant serpent. Serpents and dragons are often co-mingled together as the same beast in Irish myth. It was of his slaying that the red blood from the death of the sea serpent spewed into the waters of Lough Derg colored the waters as such. he supposedly killed the last remaining serpent on Saint’s Island. This was supposedly the mother of all the Irish serpents, and thereby being the mother to Lú in Gougan Barra Lake. Some claim that Saint Finbarr drowned the serpent instead of chasing him off. Others claim the serpent was slaughtered. The serpent is not always depicted as a snake, lake monster, or dragon but usually as a winged creature like the one depicted in the St. Patrick’s slaying of the beast. There is a 3000 BCE copper relief of a giant lion-headed bird named “Imdugud” found at the Temple of the Goddess Nenbursag at Tell-al-Ubaid that is more in likeness that historians believe was imagined as the dragon that Saint Finbarr and Saint Patrick slayed. Other scholars think the so-called serpent was not a several hundred to thousands pounds of dragon as both Saint Finbarr and Saint Patrick were not warriors, but rather monks armed with a staff. Perhaps it was a 20-30 pound beast some scholars say, such as Gerald Maloney, such as an ancient species of ground burrowing Owls such as “Ornimegalonyx Otero” or the fantastical Banshee, that flew in from a hole in the earth and frightened the monks and over-exaggerated to be a dragon.
One legend says that when Saint Finbarr arrived he found a serpent living in the lake. He caught the monster and threw it to one side, it landed miles away, leaving an impression of its body in the earth that filled with water and later was called Lough Allua.
Bibliography /Recommended Reading / References:
- Maloney, Gerald 2012 Mysterious Britain: “Creatures of Scottish Folklore”. Website referenced on 12/23/13 at http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/scotland/folklore/creatures-of-scottish-folklore.html.
- Paranormal Database undated “County Cork”. Website referenced on 12/23/13 at http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/ireland/cork.php?pageNum_paradata=3&totalRows_paradata=120.