Coumshingaun Lough

A beautiful, quintessential glacial lake in County Waterford’s Comeragh Mountains, Coumshingaun Lough is a habitat of peregrine falcons, ravens and the elusive nightjar. A delightful peaceful place it wasn’t always so tranquil, especially during the life of William Crotty.

The leader of an 18th century gang of highwaymen who like Robin Hood, stole from the rich to give to the poor. Locally born, his poverty stricken Crotty family where evicted from their home, so his career choice, for which he was well suited, was hardly surprising.

Crotty had a safe retreat – a deep underground cave only accessible by means of a rope dropped down – and another cave near the lake for the stolen livestock. His observation point at nearby Crotty’s Rock commanded expansive views of the highway and no one could come close unnoticed. He knew the Comeraghs like the back of his hand, so when he was being chased by the authorities he could easily hide on the mountain range.

The authorities offered bribes to some of Crotty’s men for information on where he was hiding. Local legend suggests David Norris, Crotty’s most trusted companion, accepted a bribe. One night when he’d poured enough whiskey into Crotty to make him sleepy, he wet his gunpowder and stole his dagger. When the guards arrived to arrest him, Crotty didn’t stand a chance. He was sent for trial in Waterford City in 1742, found guilty, executed by hanging and his head spiked outside the County Jail as a warning to those tempted to follow in his footsteps.

On dark nights, as the nightjars make their eerie calls near the lough, Crotty’s ghost, known as Dark Stranger is said to “come out of the mist, tall, dark clothed, moving purposefully, his footsteps making no sound.”

More about Ireland’s “hidden” county here

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