The first mentioned sighting of a beastie was in the seventh century, when it is said that a large fish was threatening some monks, but St Columba, reputed to have a loud voice, shouted and drove it away, but this story is linked to the river flowing out of Ness into the North Sea, and for hundreds of years no more was seen. There never was a mediaeval legend of a Loch Ness monster.Not even nineteenth century Victorians, ever keen on highland lore, had heard of it.
The story hit the press in 1933 when some tourists driving along the Lochside road at night claimed to have seen a beastie that had crawled from the water. The press got hold of the tale, and it took on a life of its own. Soon there were monster pictures, all hoaxes; and there were genuine mistakes, when people mistook logs afloat in the loch for Nessie.
Yet some sightings will not go away as easily. In the 1950s monks and schoolboys from Fort Augustus Abbey school who were fishing in the loch saw a brown back emerge from the water. They merely reported the incident and made nothing financially from it, so it is hard to make a claim of lies against them.
Many echo soundings have been made and nothing conclusive came into sight.One sounding saw some large objects moving around at the bottom of the loch, but some scientists suggested that they were sunken logs, but this explanation is not proven. Only one photograph, which appeared to show fins on a fish, seemed to confirm the monster, but it was noted that there was no scale against which to gauge the size. So nothing has been proved or disproved at the moment.
Some support for the theory that there could be something down there came in the 1980s when an angling boat in Loch Morar was attacked by a sharp toothed beast, which bit so hard into a metal oar thrust down its mouth by the frightened fishermen that it left teeth marks. Loch Morar is very close to the sea, only a few yards, so it is likely that what attacked the fishermen was a conger eel, but it soon gained the name Morag. If there could be a beast in one loch, why not in another? There is certainly a case.
Stories of lake creatures began to appear in Ireland when some anglers saw a large back emerge from the water in Lough Rea, but the Irish sense of humour took over and soon there were reports from many loughs, even ones only as deep as pond. The Lough Rea case was possibly a large pike or an eel, but nothing has been heard of this for many years.