The Tarbh Uisge or Water Bull is a creature of Scottish folklore similar to the Each Uisge (Water Horse). Some sources claim they could only be found in isolated pools in the highlands, while others suggest they frequented the coastal regions of Scotland.
The Tarbh Uisge or Water Bull is a creature of Scottish folklore similar to the Each Uisge (Water Horse). Some sources claim they could only be found in isolated pools in the highlands, while others suggest they frequented the coastal regions of Scotland. Described as having a black, soft, velvety pelt the Tarbh Uisge would generally only leave the water at night in order to graze or to mate with any available cows. The Tarbh Uisge was thought to have no ears and the calves born of a water bull were identified as their ears were half normal size or split. These calves are referred to as Corc-Chluassask (Split Ears) or Carechluasach (knife or short ears). According to Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs by James Mackinlay (1893) ‘Calves are the result of occasional intercourse between these animals and their more civilised domestic congeners, such calves bearing unmistakable proofs of their mixed descent in the unusual size and pendulousness of their ears and the wide aquatic spread of their jet black hoofs.’
The exact nature of the Tarbh Uisge could be called into question. Rev. Dr. Alexander Stewart in ‘Twixt Ben Nevis and Glencoe: the natural history, legends, and folk-lore of the West Highlands (1885)’ describes both water bulls and water horses as being ‘upon the whole, of the same shape and form as the more kindly quadrupeds after whom they have been named, but larger, fiercer, and with an amount of `devilment’ and cunning about them, of which the latter, fortunately, manifest no trace. They are always fat and sleek, and so full of strength and spirit and life that the neighing of the one and the bellowing of the other frequently awake the mountain echoes to their inmost recesses for miles and miles around.’ However, some sources suggset that unlike the Each Uisge, the Water Bull did not attack people and livestock, instead ignoring those who happened upon them and was considered docile.
On the Isle of Skye they were considered unlucky for the land and are said to have been killed. Some stories concerning water bulls and cows say they can only be killed by silver bullets.
Strangely it has been suggested by some sources that the Tarbh Uisge makes a noise similar to a rooster crowing rather than a bull bellowing.
Loch Llundavra and Loch Achtriachtan in Glencoe are said to have been famous for their Tarbh Uisge.
On the Isle of Man the Tarbh Uisge are known as Taroo Ustey.