By: Tippy & Alfred
Legends of the Lakes and Rivers of Ireland
Tarbh'Usige, Water-bull, Water-cow, Irish Hippopotamus,
Tarroo Ushtey, etc.
Much less well-known among the creatures that inhabit the
Irish moors is the water bull. It has also been spotted in
Scotland and in Iceland. It is often described as a hairy,
club footed quadruped with horns and short ears likened to
those of a hippopotamus. It is said to be nocturnal, a shore
grazer that is relatively harmless in some accounts and in
others a fierce, malevolent bull that emerges from the ocean
and terrorizes the countryside at night.
There are very few sightings of this creature, which would
support that they do indeed keep to themselves and only come
out at night. If they had been great pests there would have
been accounts of people putting together hunting parties to
track them down and kill them.
One sighting was by a boy in Lough Dubh, Ireland who came a
little too close to the creature and was badly frightened by
it. His father was a teacher for the state and it was
thought unlikely that he would have made up the story. It
was suggested that perhaps it was a walrus that the boy saw
and fear made him remember details that otherwise were not
there. However the boy described perfectly the Tarbh'Usige
with its rhino-like horn and stumpy feet.
Another such sighting is of the Achill Island Dinosaur, the
description of which describes the water bull. There are so
few reports of these creatures that it is suspected that
these really are myth and not an actual creature that
inhabits the lakes, rivers and bogs of Ireland. However,
local people still insist that this creature along with the
horse eel and the kelpie do in fact exist.
An excerpt from Peter Costello's "In Search of Lake
Monsters" pg. 20
"Early one morning in April of 1923, Alfred Cruickshank was
drive along Loch Ness trying to meet a train when he claimed
to have seen a peculiar animal crossing the road about 50
yards in front of him. As he drew nearer he could make out
a "large humped body standing about six feet high with its
belly trailing on the ground and 12 feet long," [emphasis
mine] also having a tail of comparable length. It had
large webbed feet attached to four thick legs. "I saw the
outline of what appeared to be the head," which he described
as "big and pug-nosed and was set right on the body-in other
words it didn't seem to have much of a neck." Cruickshank
thought the beast resembled an "enormous hippo" in many
ways. Before retreating into the water the creature gave
off a "sharp bark."
A decade later a Mrs. Reid was on her way to Inverness when
she spotted a strange creature lying in a glade along a
wooded slope, away from the loch shore. She thought it was
6-7 feet in length and bearing the general shape of a
hippopotamus with a large rounded head and thick short legs.
It appeared to be hairy and to bear a sort of mane;
otherwise it was generally dark in color."
Peter Costello's book is mainly about tracking down the Loch
Ness Monster or "Nessie". It must have come as quite a shock
to him to have been told this story that describes the water
bull with its very short neck instead of the long neck
monster everyone usually speaks of.
Could there be a hippopotamus-like creature that exists
above the equator? It is really unknown considering that
there has never been any evidence aside from witness
accounts of this creature (unlike the horse eel.)
Or maybe this isn't a water bull but a female horse eel?
There are creatures that have drastically different
appearances dependent upon gender. Or is this some bygone
animal that was once native to these lands long before man
came to inhabit the islands and there are just very few
left? Could this strange beast be nothing but imagination?
Perhaps, Perhaps not.
It is important to note that these creatures have been
sighted in Iceland as well, whereas the horse eel has been
seen in Ireland and Scotland exclusively. The water bull
appears to be aquatic and able to cross fresh water and salt
No real conclusion can be made as to whether these creatures
do indeed exist. Perhaps time and maybe some excavation of
the bogs in and around Ireland and Scotland would reveal
more considering the preservative properties of the bogs.
Unless that happens, the world may never know.
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