la-mhalan or la-bhallan etc is a
mythological/cryptozoological creature from northern
It was generally considered to be a kind of rodent
, and indeed the name "làbh-allan
also used for a water shrew
or water vole
. It was however, reportedly larger than a rat
, very noxious, and lived in deep pools in rivers.
Its poisonous abilities were legendary, and it was said to be able
to injure cattle over a hundred feet away.
sources claim that it was mostly to be found in Caithness. Thomas Pennant
made enquiries about the animal while in Ausdale in the county, and it is also mentioned in
the work of Rob Donn, the Scottish Gaelic poet from Sutherland.
Pennant claims the locals preserved the skin, and, as a cure for
their sick beasts, gave them the water in which it had been
- Lewis Spence - The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain
- Fleming, John D.D. F.R.S.E. M.W.S. &c.HISTORY OF BRITISH ANIMALS, EXHIBITING THE
DESCRIPTIVE CHARACTERS AND SYSTEMATICAL ARRANGEMENT OF THE GENERA
AND SPECIES OF QUADRUPEDS, BIRDS, REPTILES, FISHES, MOLLUSCA, AND
RADIATA OF THE UNITED KINGDOM ; INCLUDING THE INDIGENOUS,
EXTIRPATED, AND EXTINCT KINDS, TOGETHER WITH PERIODICAL AND
OCCASIONAL VISITANTS. (Edinburgh) James Duncan MDCCCXXVIII.
Macleod Banks Reviewed work(s): The Peat Fire Flame by
Alasdair Alpine MacGregor Folklore, Vol. 48, No.
1937), pp. 408-409 (review consists of 2 pages)