Ken Simons: web designer, editor, and archivist

The Sea-Cat is to be feared


I don’t want to get in trouble with Julian (our lovely little cat, of whom there is more below) by dissing cats as a species, but an article in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books has reminded me of the existence of a dreaded beast called the Sea-cat.

“The hero is alone at night on the seashore when he hears a terrible, unrecognizable sound … He eventually sees a huge black quadruped like a giant hairy seal with legs. He manages to escape and the following day tries to describe the beast to his grandfather, who asks him to sketch it.”

A crude version of his sketch appears below.The author of the original story (paraphrased here) was Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966), better known as “Flann O’Brien”. The novel which mentions the Sea-cat, An Béal Bocht, is perhaps the greatest (well, certainly the most post-modern) novel written in the Irish language. It’s included (in English translation) in a new edition of O’Brien’s collected novels from Everyman Press.

Turn this image sideways to see where the Sea-cat lives

[Look sideways at the picture to see the Sea-Cat’s secret identity … and be sure to read O’Brien’s bicycle-themed novel, The Third Policeman, if you haven’t done so already.]