cìrein cròin

"Grey crest." A fabulous sea-monster in Scottish Gaelic tradition, reputed to be the largest of all creatures and capable of devouring seven whales. It is variously known as cuartag mhòr a' chuain ("great whirlpool of the ocean"), mial mhòr a' chuain ("great beast of the ocean"), and uile bhéisd a' chuain ("monster of the ocean").

A popular Caithness rhyme goes:

"Seven herrings are a salmon's fill,
Seven salmons are a seal's fill,
Seven seals, are a whale's fill,
Seven whales are the fill of a cìrein cròin,
And seven cìrein cròin are the fill of the big devil himself."



  • Campbell, J.G. (1900). Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Glascow: James MacLehose and Sons, p. 220.