Published on Wednesday 25 January 2012 19:30
The tale of a large and mysterious cat-like creature prowling around South Kilkenny has reared its head again.
Stories are surfacing once again as another notorious “beast” made headlines in England this weekend – where The Guardian reported that Britain’s National Trust is hoping DNA evidence from a slain deer can provide clues into some 75 reported sightings from 2005-2011 of “panthers, pumas, even on one occasion a lion” at Gloucestershire.
In South Kilkenny, the sightings have been recorded in recent years near Mullinavat and Glenmore.
One local man described seeing an animal the size of a Rottweiler but “with the head of a cat” and “huge eyes and jaws.”
One such experience is recalled by Ned Egan. Driving in his van around 7pm on a summer evening, he watched for about 20 seconds as a panther-like animal ran through a field.
Far from being terrified, he says the experience was beautiful, even ballet-like. And to those who don’t believe him, he says: “I saw it, and I’m glad I did, because I’ve never seen such a marvellously graceful animal in my life. It was the Rudolf Nureyev of wild creatures, the (Galina) Ullanova of beautiful animals – and stuff the naysayers and disbelievers. Although in truth – I can’t blame them.”
“I’d love to have had a witness with me – but people would then only say ‘two liars instead of one’ in that case,” Ned says. “A camera would have been no use, because of the rapidity; I was a bit in shock when it cleared a fence at great speed, bounced once on the road, and cleared the low bank on my right as if it wasn’t there. I’d love to see it again – but not at close quarters!”
Another local man recalls a more frightening encounter that happened as he was driving at around 1am on the Bog Road near Piltown.
Asking that his name not be used “because people wouldn’t believe me,” he recalls: “I saw these eyes shining, but I thought nothing of it because you’d see the occasional fox around. But just as I was passing by, there was a commotion, and what I saw was as big as any big dog – bigger maybe – but it didn’t have the head of a dog. It was ferocious looking.”
“He looked as if he was dazzled,” the man says of the “jet black” animal. And rather than stick around to find out exactly what species it might have been, he says: “I kept moving.”
Another local couple has this tale to share of what they call “the mysterious black beast of Listrolin.” Ken Wood says that he has not spotted such an animal himself, but that his daughter Emily and son-in-law Nick did have a sighting several summers ago.
“They were both sat outside the house door with a view down the garden when Nick’s attention was drawn to a large black animal going across the bottom of the garden approximately 50 feet away. He drew Emily’s attention to it and they both saw it pass through the garden and over the ditch into an adjoining field where they lost sight of it,” the father says. “Now both were convinced that what they had seen, from its size, shape and its gait, was a panther or similar large member of the cat family.”
Visiting from England, they had not heard any stories or gossip surrounding such an animal “and both of them were totally convinced of what they had seen – and both sober and of sound mind.”
What exactly did these South Kilkenny people see? No one can yet say for certain.