The Water Monster: A Folktale of Dromore, Ireland

Pinpoint Location: Dromore, County Down / Map data ©2016 Google

This folktale from Dromore tells the tale of Saint Colman, who rescued a young woman from a terrible fate.

Not far from the city of Dromore flow the lazy deep waters of the River Lagan, and often the Patron Saint, Bishop Colman, rambled along its banks in prayer and meditation. Indeed, if tradition speaks the truth, often he passed over it with dry feet.

But a great water monster lurked beneath the surface of the river, always in quest of prey. One day an incautious and innocent young damsel went down the bank, and stood upon some stepping-stones to wash her linen.

The monster sailed slowly towards her, and, before she was aware of his approach, he suddenly reared his huge head from the deep, opened his tremendous jaws, and swallowed the poor maiden alive.

Although her terror was very great, the young woman had the presence of mind to call out for help, “Oh, holy Colman, save me!”

Her cry was heard by the saint, who prayed to Heaven for her release. Some of the girl’s companions who stood on the bank, and who witnessed that fearful doom, shouted and screamed. St. Colman approached the river and commanded the infernal beast to release his prey. And so the girl was cast unharmed on the bank.

To this very day the tracks of the holy bishop’s feet are shown on that river bank, and the path down to the Lagan is called “St. Colman’s road.”

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  1. Note that, due to political events at a later date, the region of origin for this legend is currently within the borders of Northern Ireland. Since the tale clearly predates this event, it is included in the Irish collection.


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