Of Mermaids and Men

A small scattering of merfolk stories exist around the UK and Ireland. Some of the creatures are said to protect hoards of treasure, while others have uttered curses which have wiped out entire communities. While many believe that most mermaid sightings can be attributed to Manatees and other aquatic mammals, not all cases can be readily dismissed as mistaken identity. What follows is a list of the places where merfolk have been encountered or were believed to exist.

 

Image (right) courtesy of: www.royalmail.com/creatures

mermaid stamp, royal mail issued
 


Bathing Mermaid

Location: Aberystwyth (Dyfed) - Cliffs near the town
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: July 1826
Further Comments: Twelve people watched a beautiful pale woman washing herself in the sea, with what appeared to be a black tail splashing around behind her.


 


Shape Changers

Location: Bantry (County Cork) - Bay cliffs
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The mermaids said to live in this area would be capable of changing their shape as they came on to land. They would also be seen sitting on the rocks play harps.


 


Women with Child

Location: Barra (Outer Hebrides) - Reef in Caolas Cumhan
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Pre twentieth century
Further Comments: Crofter Colin Campbell raised his rifle to fire at what he thought was an otter eating a fish, but stopped when he realised the creature was actually a mermaid holding a child. The creature dived into the sea after Campbell made a noise.


 


Swan Eater

Location: Burscough (Lancashire) - Martin Mere
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 2002
Further Comments: An unknown large creature was seen to attack several swans from beneath the water of the lake - it is believed to be a type of large catfish, which can grow up to sixteen feet in length. There has also been at least one mermaid sighting in the lake, and Sir Lancelot's body is supposed to be buried nearby.


 


Mer Children

Location: Calf of Man (Isle of Man) - Rocky area, exact location not known
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 1810
Further Comments: Three men from Douglas found two merchildren on the rocks. One was already dead, but they saved the second child and took it to their town. The creature was described as around 60.3 centimetres in length and brown in colour, although the scales around its tail were slightly violet, and the hair on its head light green.


 


Shorted Armed Mermaid

Location: Campbeltown (Argyll and Bute) - Kintyre Peninsula
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 18 October 1811
Further Comments: Watched by a farmer for two hours, this mermaid had a pale upper body and a red/grey tail covered in hair. Its face was human, with deep-set eyes and short neck. The creature combed the hair on its head with what looked like short, stubby arms before diving into the water and washing its torso.


 


Teenager

Location: Castlemartin (Dyfed) - Off the coast in the area
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Circa 1782
Further Comments: Henry Reynolds spotted a merman off the coast which he initially believed to be a pale skinned teenager before noticing its brown tail which waved about. While the body and arms looked human, the arms and hands looked too short and thick, while the creature's nose was long and sharp. Reynolds went to find other witnesses, but by the time he returned, the merman had gone.


 


Mermaid

Location: Child's Ercall (Shropshire) - Pool
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: This mermaid was so upset at the way she was treated by onlookers, she drove to the bottom of the pool and never returned. It was thought that she guarded a mass of treasure.


 


Mermaid Curse

Location: Colmonell (Ayrshire) - Knockdolian Castle
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The mistress of the castle ordered the destruction of a black rock which stood just a short distance away, in order to prevent a mermaid sitting upon it and singing. As revenge, the mermaid cursed the family, ensuring they all died without leaving an heir for the estate.


 


Llys Helig

Location: Conwy (Clwyd) - Conway Bay
Type: Legend
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Llys Helig was a mythical palace, which was sunk to punish its evil owner. The ruins of the walls can sometimes be seen at low tide, though in recent years it has been discovered that the rocks are a natural formation. Mermaids have also been seen in these waters, and one was said to have cursed the town of Conway after she was washed up on the beach and no one offered to help her back into the sea.


 


Mermaids

Location: Cudden Point (Cornwall) - Off coast
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: This area is another haunt for the Cornish merfolk.


 


Mermaids

Location: Deerness (Orkney) - Off coast
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Late nineteenth century
Further Comments: These women of the water were seen dozens of times during the last twenty years of the nineteenth century.


 


Treasure Guardians

Location: Duncansby Head (Highland) - Cave system off coast
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A team of mermaids and mermen are reported to guard a hidden cave full of treasure.


 


Enchanted Eel

Location: Dunkettle (County Cork) - Lake close to small graveyard
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: This eel must have been of great size, as it terrorised the neighbourhood, eating sheep and cattle. A man tending the graveyard encountered the creature one morning and severed its tail with a hook. Enraged, the creature attacked but the man managed to run away. What happened to the creature after that is undocumented, but the man in question died a few days later, and one of the headstones in the graveyard is said to be decorated with a hook and an eel.


 


Captured Fisherman

Location: Dunnet Bay (Highland) - Underwater sea cave
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A good looking fisherman once caught the eye of a mermaid who fell in love with him - she kidnapped the fellow and held him in a secret cave under the sea, where he remains to this day...


 


Vanishing Twitchers

Location: Eynhallow (Orkney) - Exact location unknown
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 14 July 1990
Further Comments: Two birdwatchers that vanished without trace on the island after arriving with 86 other people were thought by locals to have been taken by merfolk. An extensive search by the coastguard could find no trace of the missing people.


 


Well Dweller

Location: Fornham All Saints (Suffolk) - Well in the village (exact location unknown)
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Nineteenth century
Further Comments: An old story, most likely told to prevent children playing too close to the well, said a mermaid waited within the well. She was ready to drown children who touched the water's edge.


 


Nygel

Location: Foula (Shetlands) - Mills with water wheels
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The Nygel was a water horse that appeared to hang around locations with water wheels, using its teeth to stop the wheel turning. It had a tail that arched over its back. One story said the creature once entered a home; the occupant fled and the building was left empty for thirty years.


 


Mermaid

Location: Hayfield (Derbyshire) - Mermaid's Pool, near Kinder Reservoir
Type: Legend
Date / Time: Every midnight, the eve of Easter Sunday
Further Comments: Anyone who sees the creature is said to gain immortality. One man who came here once a year lived to be 104!


 


Halibut-Tailed creature

Location: Isle of Yell (Shetlands) - Thirty miles off the coast
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 1833
Further Comments: Three (or six) fishermen claimed to have caught a ninety centimetre long mermaid while at sea. The creature had arms around 23 centimetres in length with webbed fingers, and while it had blue eyes and nostrils, no ears or chin could be seen. It possessed a tail similar to a halibut and also had two fins on its shoulders. After listening to the creature wail for three hours, the fishermen threw it back into the sea.


 


Mermaid?

Location: Kilconly Point (County Kerry) - Sea
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 1960 - 1962
Further Comments: A mermaid which was spotted several times in this area was described as a 'normal' woman, leading one to conclude that maybe she was..?


 


Bloodied mermaid

Location: Killone Lake (County Clare) - Waters of the lake
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Every forty years, exact date unknown
Further Comments: A mermaid who frequented the lake would often steal wine from the crypt beneath the church (or the cellar of Newhall, depending on the storyteller). She was stabbed (or shot) when caught, but managed to drag herself back to the lake before dying. The waters are said to turn red with her blood every forty years.


 


Mermaid

Location: Kinlochbervie (Highland) - Craigmore
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Mid twentieth century
Further Comments: A report exists of a mer-creature being seen here.


 


Sailor

Location: Kinlochbervie (Highland) - Sandwood Bay
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1953
Further Comments: Leaving no footprints as he crosses the sand, this bearded sailor is one of the many who lost their lives in the sea nearby. He is particularly noted for the large brass buttons on his jacket. A red-headed mermaid has also been reported in the area.


 


Killer Mermaid

Location: Leek (Staffordshire) - Blakemere, the Mermaid's Pool
Type: Legend
Date / Time: Midnight (reoccurring)
Further Comments: The fish woman surfaces to comb her hair at midnight - anyone approaching too close are dragged down into the deep waters with her.


Records 1 - 25, of 54

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