Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Black Pig. Also known as 'The Dolocher'

The Black Pig. Also known as ‘The Dolocher’.

An interesting tale in connection with the Black Dog Prison in Dublin's Cornmarket was related in the Dublin Penny Journal in November 1832. The paper described how a 'creature', who appeared in the form of a black pig, had apparently engaged in a reign of terror against the women of the city at the end of the 18th Century.

The beast, known as 'The Dolocher', was commonly believed to be the spirit of a former inmate of the Black Dog named Olocher who had been sentenced to death for murder and rape. On the night before he was to be executed at Gallows Hill, Olocher cheated the hangman by committing suicide. This caused uproar in the prison with the authorities questioning the prison officials on how it happened.

Within a few days, the prison staff had another worry on their minds. One of the sentry posts, a little removed from the main prison, had a sentry on duty every night and imagine the shock when he was found lying unconscious on the ground. He had been badly mauled and when he recovered his senses he told his listeners that he had been attacked by a big black pig. At first, no one believed his story but when he was stripped in the prison hospital, his wounds were so horrible that some began to believe him. For many nights afterwards, the black pig was seen by several other sentries.

The prison was now on full alert but they had another shock coming. About a week after the happening to the first sentry, another sentry detailed for duty at the same lonely post was missing when his relief came to replace him. A search was at once organised and the man's clothes were discovered at the rear of the sentry box. His rifle was standing with the butt on the ground and his clothes, uniform, tunic, trousers and shirt were piled beside it. Locals, putting two and two together, decided that the black pig was really the ghost of the unhappy Olocher, or the Dolocher as he came to be known and that he had carried off the unfortunate sentry and murdered him.

The news of the second strange happening in the prison spread quickly and now a fear of the night spread through the Liberties and well it might for woman after woman who was foolish enough to go out on their own were attacked night after night. One woman claimed that she had been attacked by the beast in Christ Church Lane, while a pregnant woman was said to have had a miscarriage after an encounter with the beast in the same area. Due to the fear and terror engendered by the black pig, the lanes and alleyways surrounding Christ Church soon became a no-go area after dark.

The fear that haunted the Liberties soon spread to other parts of the city and it was noticed that it was always young women who were attacked. Some of the girls who were attacked told that their attacker had the face of a pig. By this time Dublin was deserted city at night time, a city that trembled with fear as the long winter nights shrouded the unlighted streets of the Liberties and other parts of Dublin. Eventually, the long nights ended and with the coming of late spring and summer, the attacks ended.

As the longs days and short nights began to end with the coming of late autumn, people hoped and prayed the evil monster that had prowled there last winter would not return. The nights of November saw their hopes dashed as on a foggy night another young woman was attacked and her cries for help were heard and the attacker fled. However, the girl's story was that her attacker was "the black pig".

Vigilante groups were formed in an effort to catch the Dolocher and, on one particular night, the patrons of a pub in Cook Street set out to kill every black pig they could find running loose on the streets of Dublin. The presence of the vigilantes seemed to force the Dolocher to lie low for a while, but he re-emerged to continue his reign of terror a year later with an attack on a woman at Fisher's Alley, beside Wood Quay. The fear that had been over the people the previous year returned and some families barred their doors at night time. A couple of weeks passed and a couple more women were attacked and then the weather took a hand.

It was a late November evening but fine, and a blacksmith from the edge of the Liberties decided to take a walk to his favourite tavern in Thomas Street for a drink and a chat with his friends. Time passed quickly and the blacksmith decided it was time to go home. When he came out of the tavern, he discovered it was raining and as he had brought no coat with him, he returned to the tavern owner for the loan of something to keep the rain off him. The tavern owner gave him a long hooded cloak belonging to his wife. The blacksmith set off to walk home through the dark streets and alleyways of the Liberties. He had just reached the end of a dark alleyway when a figure sprang at him and attempted to punch him to the ground. In a flash, he realised that his attacker was the black pig, while the black pig realised that this was no frail woman as he had thought because he was wearing a cloak. In a few minutes, the blacksmith had his attacker on the ground and then he pulled off the skin of a black pig's head the man was wearing.

By this time, three or four men had arrived on the scene and thinking that it was another attack on a woman had come as quickly as they could. They were in no way gentle with him as they dragged him to his feet and brought him to a police station. It was there the next morning that the man was identified. The Blacksmith had delivered a fatal blow to his attacker who was identified as the missing sentry, before he died he confessed to aiding Olocher in his suicide and orchestrating the slaughter of the pigs. He had spread the rumour of the black pig himself using the resulting atmosphere of fear and superstition for the sole purpose of attacking and robbing the innocent women of the Liberties. In some ways Dublin’s Jack the Ripper.

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