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Tarroo-Ushtey Of Onchan


In The Folk-lore Of The Isle Of Man (1891), Arthur William Moore gives the following account of a chance encounter with a Tarroo-Ushtey or Water Bull (the Scottish name for these creatures is Tarbh Uisge).

‘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 field, 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 Water-Bull 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.’

I have not yet identified the exact vicinity where the encounter was said to have taken place, so the map below gives a general location in Onchan.


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Craig-y-Nos Castle


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