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GroupingLegendary creature
Sub groupingLake and river
Other name(s)King Otter

The Dobhar-chú (Irish pronunciation: [ˈd̪ˠoːɾˠxuː];[dubious ] lit.'water dog' or 'water hound'), or King Otter, is a creature of Irish folklore. It resembles both a dog and an otter, though it sometimes is described as half dog, half fish.[citation needed] It lives in water and has fur with protective properties.[citation needed]


Physical description of the Dobhar-Chú resembles an otter but said to be about five times as large (perhaps 10–15 feet), with white pelt, black ear tips and a black cross on its back. Though, due to the murky waters it is said to reside in, its pelt may be portrayed as darker.[1]


Dobharchú is one of a number of Irish words for 'otter'.[2] The modern Irish word for 'water' is uisce (see whiskey), although dobhar is also (rarely) used. Dobhar is a much older form and cognates are found in other Celtic languages (e.g. Welsh dŵr or dwfr). is 'hound' in Irish (see for example Cúchulainn, 'Culainn's hound'). The Dobhar-chú is also known as the dobarcu, and anglicised as doyarchu, dhuragoo, dorraghow or anchu.[3]


A headstone, found in Conwall cemetery in Glenade, County Leitrim, depicts the Dobhar-chú and is related to a tale of an attack on a local woman by the creature.[4] The stone is claimed to be the headstone of a grave of a woman killed by the Dobhar-chú in the 17th century.[5]

The monument is a recumbent flag of sandstone about 4 ft. 6ins. by 1 ft. 10 ins. It shows a recumbent animal having body and legs like those of a dog with the characteristic depth of rib and strength of thigh. The tail, long and curved, shows a definite tuft. The rear of the haunch, and still more the tail, are in exceptionally low relief, apparently due to the loss of a thin flake from the face of the slab. So far the description is canine. The lettering, and carving are in relief.[3]


Her name was supposedly Grace McGloighlin. Her husband supposedly heard her scream as she was washing clothes down at Glenade Lough and came to her aid. When he got there she was already dead, with the Dobhar-chú upon her bloody and mutilated body. The man killed the Dobhar-chú, stabbing it in the heart. As it died, it made a whistling noise, and its mate arose from the lough. Its mate chased the man but, after a long and bloody battle, he killed it as well.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ O'Flaherty, Roderic (1846). A Chorographical Description of West Or H-Iar Connaught: Written A.D. 1684. For the Irish Archaeological Society.
  2. ^ ""otter"". té Téarma. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b Tohall, Patrick (1948). "The Dobhar-Chú Tombstones of Glenade, Co. Leitrim (Cemetries[sic] of Congbháil and Cill-Rúisc)". The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. 78 (2): 127–129. ISSN 0035-9106. JSTOR 25510654.
  4. ^ Tohall, Patrick (December 1948). "The Dobhar-Chú Tombstones of Glenade, Co. Leitrim (Cemetries[sic] of Congbháil and Cill-Rúisc)". Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. 78 (2): 127–129.
  5. ^ von Radowitz, John (10 November 2017). "Does prehistoric otter explain Dobhar-chú myth?". Independent. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  6. ^ "The tale of Leitrim's own Loch Ness Monster - the Dobhar-Chú". Leitrim Observer. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2020.