Halloween special: Petticoat Loose

bay lough

Bay Lough is a beautiful lake sitting in the coum at the feet of the Knocknalougha (Knockaunabulloga) Hill in the Knockmealdown mountains.

To take these photographs you don’t have to leave your car. After you pass the hairpin bend of the Vee, there is an ample laybay overlooking the lake where you can stop. Make sure you come in May-June in the morning hours. If you know what is good for you, take your pictures and leave.

Bay Lough

This path runs downhill from the car park. Having been to the lake numerous times, very seldom I meet another walker. I also don’t have that ‘feeling of loneliness’ that, as some say, surrounds the area. In fact, I never feel alone there. If you know what I mean.

Bay Lough

If you don’t get my hints and still think about walking down to the lake, or may be even about taking a dip, then I will share with you this scary videoΒ I have found on YouTube. Make sure you mute the sound in the beginning as the music is too loud, but when the music stops, the silence makes things even scarier.

Few ever swim in this lake for fear of being pulled under and kept there forever; at least, I haven’t found any record of someone swimming across the middle.

( Here is a bit of editing, as I posted a link to a cool blog but added two extra letters to the blog name by mistake, so I just take this link out altogether).

It is not possible to walk around the lake.

Bay Lough

It is where the path ends. Looks like an end, doesn’t it?

As you have already guessed, I have a ghost story to share, but I just don’t know how to start. These pictures don’t really fit…

Bay Lough

I know! I need to add some drama! ( I didn’t put the sign. It was there for a Drama class…)

Now that the setup is right, I can share the story of the most famous ghost, the Petticoat Loose.

Petticoat Loose was a six foot tall farm girl born in the 1800’s whose real name was either Mary or Brigid, depending on the storyteller. She did the man’s work on the farm, drank like a man, and would also wrestle and fight the local men when they mocked her. They say she killed a bull with a single blow of her first. They also say she killed a farmhand with his own spade and threatened to kill everyone if they tell on her.

Her nickname stuck to her after an incident in the Quills pub in Dungarvan where she used to be a regular. Her petticoat got undone while she spun around in a drunken dance. Petticoat Loose was a great dancer, no man could match her.

It is how she met her future husband – on the dance floor. The marriage lasted a year.

There were rumors that Petticoat Loose had a lover, a local hedge-schoolmaster. One night when she and her servants were milking the cattle, a cry of agony came from the fields. A servant girl was about to run and find out what was the matter, but a milking stool flew through the air and hit her on the back of her head. Petticoat Loose then told her to stay put and mind her own business.

Poor husband was never seen again after that night.

Another year went by. One night Petticoat Loose was in the pub, drinking with the local workmen. She was challenged by them to prove her drinking skills and offered half a gallon of beer. She drank it down, and then suddenly collapsed. She died without a priest, and no priest was called for her burial.

Seven years later Petticoat Loose ghost returned to haunt belated travelers, and was also seen around the pubs and dance halls. She became the terror of one particular road, and was responsible for at least one death. For some reason, she would never harm anyone by the name of John.

She even challenged a local man to a dancing contest. I don’t know what would happen to him if he wasn’t clever enough to make a ring with Holy Water round himself and stay within it.

All this horror lasted another 80 years. The local people had had enough, and called for a priest.

The priest doused the ghost with Holy Water and asked her why she kept coming back, to which she replied that she was damned, and admitted that she had killed a number of people. The priest banished her to Bay Lough, but she told him that she would do evil wherever she was. ‘We will see’, the priest replied. ‘I will place you head downwards.’

At these words, Petticoat Loose vanished and was never seen afterwards, but the priest soon died. Some say he didn’t die though. He just disappeared because he wasn’t from this world.

Bottomless Bay Lough was a good choice. St Patrick once gathered up the monsters in Ireland and put them in Bay Lough. He told them to stay there and wait, and that he would be back tomorrow. So, they are still there, deep in the dark waters, waiting. Some say that Petticoat Loose ghost took a shape of a monster with the body of a horse and the head of a woman. Others say she still looks like her old self, a large woman with red hair that sometimes appears out of the water and asks the same question all over again: ‘When will the day of judgment come?’

I am not the only one who has a feeling that Petticoat Loose isn’t gone for good yet.


You can google Petticoat Loose and find more versions of the story.

inesemjphotographyΒ Happy Halloween! Stay safe!


    1. Thank you! It is an uncontrolled Rhododendron growth that takes over the mountain. Bright pink in early June, almost impenetrable, but makes a good picture πŸ˜‰

  1. An engrossing and wonderful story. Not to mention the fantastic photograhps and a bit of Irish fiddle to boot. Yes I think I would steer clear of this lake too. Thank you for the follow Inese, I wish my posts were even a tiny little bit as interesting.

    1. Thank you Barbara! I have been to the lake, and it is beautiful. You never feel alone there because somebody is always looking at you from the road on the side of the Sugar Hill, half a mile away πŸ˜‰ It is where people usually stop to take pictures.

  2. Petticoat Loose is quite the ghost story — it isn’t often one runs into a female ghost who could take on men when she was living! I’m sure her powers could be even stronger as a spirit! Stunning photographs to go along with your dark tale, Inese! I loved it all. Bravissimo! xo

  3. While researching I happened upon your site, and what a wonderful surprise! Your photos are beautiful, and it was really great to find so many in the area and not just Bay Lough! I am researching Petticoat Loose for a school presentation and paper. She was an interesting, mysterious, and scary. There are a lot of versions of her story out there from a lot of sources, but yours is the most fun I’ve come across so far. Thank you for the post. πŸ™‚

  4. Such a fun post ~ great change of pace. From the beauty of Bay Lough, the bloom and colors make the peace & quiet of the place stand out even more ~ to the perfect shots of the eerieness of the place at night and your creativity takes over with drama πŸ™‚ Beautiful work Inese.

    1. Thank you so much Dalo! I have never been to the lake after 5pm and simply fiddled with an old picture in Photoshop πŸ™‚ Glad you like my Halloween story, and hope it is as funny as I wanted it to be πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much Gill! I am having a great time with my kids. As it is a rare occasion, I have scheduled a few posts just to keep the blog going. I will catch up soon. xxxx

  5. I don’t know where you got the idea that I hadn’t swum across the middle. I’ve done so and so have others. The lake is is very small so for any decent swimmer, it makes more sense to swim around the circumference to extend the distance swum. A lot of nonsense is talked about swimming Bay Lough and why it shouldn’t be done or how scary it is or other nonsense, usually by people who aren’t swimmers. And if you will accept the correction, it’s Lone Swimmer, NOT Lonely Swimmer, two very different things!

    1. Donal, thank you for your reply πŸ™‚ As you have noticed, there is a lot of extra drama added to make the story look scary and more Halloween-ish – and also for more fun. My apologies for the mistake as English is not my native language. It is Lone Swimmer indeed. To sort it out, I am taking the links and the mention out of the post. Hope you had a great Halloween weekend!

  6. I did actually swim across the middle and didn’t think twice about it. A lot of nonsense is talked about swimming Bay Lough. The only reason for not swimming there is that is is too small to be worthwhile. And thanks for the link but the name is Lone Swimmer rather than Lonely Swimmer!

  7. Lovely images! OK, I have been diving at night and caverns with total darkness etc., but the video on the freediving in the lake Vee that showed us is quite intimidating. It is not only dark but as well empty….brave divers!

    1. Thank you Indah! Yes, it is intimidating indeed. Total darkness after 5m! But the secret is simple – the sediments of pit ( turf) make the place look that dark. Incredible brave guys, but I wouldn’t advise any amateur to repeat this dive.

    1. Thank you! It is an old story, everything has been told before. There were witnesses and all. I just thought that adding some fun wouldn’t hurt πŸ™‚

  8. LOVE THIS. I love the photographs…gorgeous, colours, imagery, everything. Loved the ghost story. just the thing for Halloween xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Thank you! I am in the midst of festivities right now πŸ™‚ Visiting with my girls, drinking eggnog, enjoying gorgeous weather. I will catch up in two weeks. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  9. OH, I really like this tale. It has many extended creative ideas written all over it. Thank Boo! πŸ˜€ Well, it’s Hallow’een, after all. πŸ’πŸ˜˜

  10. Great ghost story, Inese. The lake is so beautiful adorned in purple, and then there’s that photo with the moon and the feeling completely changes. Wonderful photos and the perfect story for the season.

  11. Interesting story to read on a windy Sunday night… and beautiful pictures, specially the first one with all this purple πŸ˜€

  12. We never know what those red haired women (ghosts) are going to do, that’s for certain. Oh, wait. πŸ˜‚ (running away quickly before Inese can catch me)

    1. Robert, I wish I were a red haired woman! πŸ™‚
      I guess you have so many ghost stories in your city that my Petticoat Loose looks like an amateur πŸ™‚

      1. Well we have some for sure along with voodoo. My first wife was red haired Irish-American. A fine pwrson, really, a bit wild. I think your story is a good one. I grew up not far from Plainfield Wisconsin, home of Ed Gein. He was the inspiration for the movies Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Leatherface and Psycho, plus some others. We didn’t need ghost stories, we had him.

          1. I’m staying home Halloween night, I think. The memorial parade for Fats Domino is the next evening and I want to go to that. Basically, Halloween in New Orleans is an excuse for some adults (in costumes) to drink too much and act stupid. Not that much different than most weekends in the French Quarter tourist bars, except those costumes.

            Any idea where the name Knockmealdown came from? It’s different and seems like it should mean something in particular.

            1. Looks like a great opportunity for candid photography πŸ™‚
              ‘Cnoc’ means ‘hill’ in Gaelic. For the rest of the name it could be ‘Sunday servants’ hill’ or ‘Brown bald hill’. Difficult to tell as the name was anglicized.

  13. Good story telling from appearing to be introducing a good place to visit with a little old story and turns scary later on. The lake and the surrounding look very nice. It looks like a great place to visit. The lake looks like it is deep and water appears not too clear. I guess that may be the reasons people do not swim across. Now, you have a really scary pictures … with faces or owl vaguely seen. Well done! I think if you be kind to the ghost instead of get scared and have bad feeling toward them, I think you may have another kind of friend πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ The water is clean, I could see through it in the shallow places, but the walls and the bottom of the lake have the pit ( turf) sediments, and it is why the water looks black. Streams are coming down the slope into the lake, but no stream is coming out. It is why people say that the lake is bottomless.

  14. Janet (my given name) is the female version of John so I’m safe, right? I love all that heather (?) on the hills but it does look like a lonely spot. Happy Halloween!

    1. Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ No, it is not heather. These are rhododendron labyrinths of no return πŸ™‚
      You are safe to visit the lake I guess πŸ™‚ Happy Halloween!

  15. Nice tour for a Halloween ending. If people are sensitive enough they will feel the ghost of Petticoat Loose in their midst. Some people don’t believe in ghost but tell of stories that are ghostly events that happened to them and are at a lost for words to describe the word GHOST. A fun tour and a good story to usher in Halloween

    1. Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ I guess that my adaption of the story is very far from the truth. It is amazing how many stories about the Petticoat Loose you can find in the internet. She was a real person, it is all I can tell.
      The lake has its mysteries. No stream comes out of it, and the sediments of pit make its waters black. No records of someone reaching the bottom, but sure there is the bottom somewhere πŸ™‚ You just have to come and investigate everything by yourself πŸ™‚ Happy Halloween!

  16. Very cool post, Inese! πŸ™‚ Completely appropriate, too! A believable tale with a bird’s eye view of pretty, but sorta creepy grounds surrounding the story. Great work! HaPPy HaLLoWeeN!

        1. On a serious note, some people have perished there. Swimming in the middle of the lake is not a good idea. If you watched the video you know that the light disappears at 5 m, and then it is all pitch black, and the water is very cold. It is possible that there are caverns and underground streams. The depth of the lake is unknown, and there is plenty of mythology mixed with grim truth – I wouldn’t test neither πŸ™‚

          1. Each of those elements or perhaps a combination of those are hazardous to the creatures of the land; add to that those living illegally in afterlife and the deathtrap is complete.

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