The Waterhorse

Ferneo Bay is a small sheltered bay on the Mullet Peninsula, created by the land of
Devlane on the south side and Elly Point to the north. It has a beautiful silver strand
sheltered by sand dunes all along the shore and the townland of Mullaghroe in the
background. On the commonage behind the sand dunes is a small freshwater lake.
Shortly before the famine, there were over 400 people living there and it was
locally known as Bastapool. Most of the houses were just little stone huts and
some other families lived in the sand dunes for shelter.
They had very little room to grow any crops but most of them set a ridge or two of
potatoes and cabbage. The only means of fertilizer in those days was the seaweed
from the shore and during the winter and stormy weather, seaweed was washed up
in abundance on the strand with each spring tide. Then early in the spring, the men
and women went out to gather it with donkeys and creels, very few had a horse,
some others used what was known as a back creel which was carried on their backs.
Among them lived a very poor man called Conan, and he was always the first man
to the shore in the early morning to make sure he had as much seaweed as he
One early morning he took his creel as usual, went down to the shore and filled it,
put it on his back, and as he was walking back to where he lived, he saw what
looked like a small horse with creels on its back and a halter, standing close by the
edge of the lake. He stopped and gazed at it for a little while and then walked on to
his little plot where he timed his creel of seaweed on the ridge, then on his way
back to the shore the little horse was still standing there and then followed him
down to the shore and stopped beside him where he was filling his creel, then he
tenderly took hold of the reins and stroked the little horse’s mane.
At this item he thought it was a neighbour’s horse and filled up the two creels on its
back and said he would use the horse and creels until the owner came along. He
took two or three loads up to his plot and then decided he had got enough
seaweed. He took hold of the reins and let the little horse down towards the little
lake where he found him, and as he stood there he was amazed when the horse
with the creels still on its back, jumped into the water and disappeared, then he
suddenly realized it was a water horse which is sometimes known as a sea horse,
this is also known to have happened, a horse coming from the sea. It seems he told
no one about it at the time, and thought no more about it until the following year
and on the very same day of the week, it happened the next year and for some
years after. Somehow local people got to know about it but many didn’t believe it.
In the year of the famine there were only three people left there. In the meantime
Conan had died and the lake is known to this day as ‘Loch Connán’. The water
horse was seen from time to time up until the early 1960’s was the last report of it,
by three men out shooting duck one late night.