The Dolocher (a legend of the Black Dog Prison, Dublin) .
From The Dublin Penny Journal, Volume 1, Number 22, November 24, 1832.
What old inhabitant of Dublin does not recollect the BLACK DOG PRISON, which stood in Corn-Market?
There happened to be a prisoner confined in this prison of the name of Olocher. He was under sentence of death for committing a crime, which, alas! not unfrequently stains even the criminal calendar--violation of female purity, accompanied by murder. The morning on which he was to undergo the last sentence of the law, he found means to commit suicide, and thus escaped (if escape it can be called) the disgrace of being conveyed through the streets, exposed to the silent execrations of the multitude, on a cart to GALLOWS GREEN, now Baggot-street, then the common place of execution.
On the night after, the sentry, who stood at the top of a long flight of steps that led into Cook-street, was found lying speechless, with his gun by his side. When removed to the jail hospital, his senses and speech returned, but one side of his body appeared quite dead and powerless by a paralytic stroke, which he declared was caused by an apparition in the shape of a black pig. The next night another sentry alarmed the guard, and confirmed the statement of the former. For several nights the guards were regularly called out, who all declared that they had seen this strangely fearful and unnatural appearance, and many people of the neighbourhood also affirmed the same. The alarming rumour which this caused was augmented still more by an extraordinary circumstance which took place one night at the BLACK DOG. When the relief went round about twelve o'clock to the different sentries, they found the sentinel at the awful station had deserted his post! He could not be found. Looking behind the sentry-box, they perceived the figure of a man --but on closer inspection it was found to be the fated victim's gun dressed up with his clothes, even to his shirt, and fully accoutred. He had been devoured! Consternation and terror spread on every side. The most sensible people of the day were of opinion that Olocher had taken the shape of a black pig, and had left the mark of his infernal vengeance on the first sentry, and had carried off this last one, body and soul!
The next day a woman came before the magistrates, and made oath that she saw the DOLOCHER, (by which name it ever afterwards went,) in Christ Church-lane--that it made a bite at her, held fast her cloak with its tusks, and that through fright she fled and left it with the monster.
Night after night the alarm was continued. One pregnant woman was attacked by the monster, and on reaching home she miscarried; and at last no woman would venture out after nightfall, for fear of being assailed by this demon in pig's form. It was now shrewdly suggested, and whispered about, that as the wretched Olocher was to suffer death for a particular crime, his hatred to women tormented him after his suicide, and that he roved the earth to annoy them; for the assaults of the monster were particularly directed against the fair sex. Thus the demon reigned triumphant, and upheld his power over people's minds by the terror which he inspired.
At last a set of brave, resolute fellows banded themselves together to rid the city of such a tormentor. They sallied out one night from a public house in Cook-street, at a late hour, armed with clubs, rusty swords, knives, and all such weapons as they could lay hands on, determined to slay every black pig they met. The slaughter commenced--such a breaking of legs, fracturing of skulls, stabbing, maiming, and destroying, was never heard of before. When any old pig would be difficult to kill, the women in the houses would shiver and exclaim, "Oh! they have him now--them are the boys--the devil's cure to the ugly beast," and such like tender expressions. Yet all the while, neither man, woman, or child dare put their heads outside the doors to assist them.
At this time Dublin was infested with such a multitude of pigs running about the streets, that the bailiffs were obliged to go through the main streets, and even kill them with pikes, and throw them into carts to carry them away. After such a night's slaughter, then, we might naturally expect that the streets were strewed over with dead bodies of pigs. No such thing. When morning came, not a pig, white or black, could be seen. How were they carried off ? It must have been in the same way that the soldier was made away with. Infernal agency must have been at work in removing the carcasses. It was horrible.
However, no Dolocher appeared again that winter. It was conjectured that he must have fallen in the group--and those who had lost a pig, even though they had but one, did not show regret, as it had fallen in the glorious attempt by which the city had been delivered from a worse plague than the Dragon of Wantley.
Human expectations are too often like
"----the snow-drop on the river,
A moment white--then melts for ever!"
Next winter the Dolocher re-appeared! A young woman passing by Fisher's-alley on the Wood-quay, was pulled in, and a bundle of clothes which she had in her hand, beside her cloak, dragged from her. The alarm spread again; the Dolocher re-commenced his "reign of terror;" women fled the streets, especially about Fisher's-alley, and Christ-Church-lane, and even the stouter hearts of men trembled within them at thought of encountering so direful a combatant. Yet strange, very strange to say, the demon-beast confined his assaults to that lovely portion of the creation whom we might have expected that even such an awful "grizly king of swinish race," would have respected, if not adored.
One day a blacksmith, who lived at the outlets, came into Dublin on business. He was a brawny fellow, with a heart as hard and impervious to fear as his study, while his fist was as a sledge-hammer. After despatching his business, a friend or two detained him over "a drop," and night was advanced before he prepared to return home. The rain was descending in torrents--he had no great coat, and two or three miles were before him. In a merry mood, he wrapped himself up in a cloak belonging to his friend's wife, and she, to complete his masquerade guise, laid on his head an old black beaver bonnet, and out he sallied. "Take care of the Dolocher!" she whispered, half in jest, half in earnest.
Just as the blacksmith reached HELL,* out rushed the Dolocher, pounced on its victim, and pinned him against the wall. The blacksmith was not a man to die easy at any time, and especially with a drop of the rale stuff in his noddle. He raised his muscular arm: "Be ye Dolocher or Devil, or what ye may, take that!" letting fall a thumper that would have staggered Dan Dannelly. Down dropped the Dolocher. The blow was followed by a kick; the Dolocher groaned--another, and he screamed; while standing on the monster, the valiant blacksmith shouted out, "Halloo, halloo, I've killed the Dolocher!" A crowd cautiously collected; the dying and groaning devil was lifted up, and out of a black pig's skin came the very man who had been carried off, body and soul, from his post at the BLACK DOG. The Dolocher was thus laid in the Red Sea, but it was a sea of his own blood. He was removed to the jail hospital, where he died next day; but before death confessed, that by his assistance the prisoner, Olocher, had committed suicide--that a low female spread the first report of the black pig--that he was the ringleader in the slaughter of the pigs, and that as fast as they were killed they were removed to a cellar in Schoolhouse-lane, and that thus he had kept up the delusion for the purpose of robbery.
* For a description of Hell, see our 18th Number.