The Myth of the Tarroo-Ushtey, or Water Bull

The Myth of the Tarroo-Ushtey, or Water Bull

The tarroo-ushtey or water-bull, it appears, was formerly a regular visitant of the Isle of Man. George Waldron says, "A neighbour of mine who kept cattle, had his fields very much infested with this animal, by which he had lost several cows; he therefore placed a man continually to watch, who bringing him word one day that a strange bull was among the cows, he doubted not but it was the waterbull, and having called a good number of lusty men to his assistance, who were all armed with great poles, pitchforks, and other weapons proper to defend themselves and he the death of this dangerous enemy; they went to the place where they were told he was, and run altogether at him, but he was too nimble for their pursuit, and after tiring them over mountains and rocks and a great space of stony ground, he took a river and avoided any further chase, by diving down into it, though every now and then he would show his head above water, as if to mock their skill."

The belief in this imaginary animal is not yet become extinct. Only a few years ago, the farmer of Slieu Mayll in the parish of Onchan, was on a Sunday evening returning home from a place of worship, when at the garee of Slegaby a wild looking animal, with large eyes sparkling like fire, crossed the road before him and went flapping away. This he knew to be a tarroo-ushtey, for his father had seen one at nearly the same place, over the back of this animal he broke his walking stick, so lazy was it to get out of his way. This man's brother had also seen a tarroo-ushtey, at Lhanjaghyn, in the same neighbourhood. When proceeding to the fold very early one morning in the month of June, to let the cattle out to feed before the heat of the day came on, he saw a waterbull standing outside the fold, when the bull that was within with the cattle perceived him, he instantly broke through the fence and ran at him, roaring and tearing up the ground with his feet, but the tarroo-ushtey scampered away seeming quite unconcerned, and leaping over an adjoining precipice, plunged into deep water, and after swimming about a little, evidently amusing himself, he gave a loud bellow and disappeared.