Scattery Island: The Legend of the Cathach
Clare County Library
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Scattery Island is rich in legend and stories. The old Irish name for Scattery Island was Inis Cathaigh, after the Cathach or Péist - a legendary monster who inhabited the island and terrorised people. When St. Senan arrived on the island the Archangel Michael led him to the highest hill from which Senan was able to locate the Cathach. Senan faced the monster and ordered it to depart from the island. In some stories the Cathach obeyed immediately and 'neither stopped nor stayed' until he reached the dark waters of Doolough Lake at the foot of Mount Callan. T.J. Westropp relates how the Cathach devoured St. Senan's smith, Narach, but Senan brought him forth again alive. The Cathach advanced 'its eyes flashing flame, with fiery breath, spitting venom and opening its horrible jaws', but Senan made the sign of the cross, and the beast collapsed and was chained and thrown into Doolough Lake. The legend is alluded to in the late eighth century 'Calendar of Oengus' ; 'Senan of Inis Cathaig gibbeted Naroch's foe.' The Cathach has been described as a nondescript creature with spiked back, scales, fishtail, nose curling up spirally, and clawed forefeet.

After Senan had expelled the Cathach, a local chieftain called MacTail, or Mactal, hired a druid to put a spell on the saint. However, as the druid landed on a nearby island, a tidal wave enveloped him and swept him to his death. The island is still pointed out as 'Carraig a Draoi' or The Druid's Rock. It lies between Hog Island and Scattery, and can be seen at low tide.


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'PEISTS' Dysert O'Dea
'PEISTS' Dysert O'Dea