A load of bull

Bull sign

Once upon a sunny Sherkin day I decided to take the children up to see the lighthouse at the other end of the island. It must have been about four years ago so they were 10 and 12 at the time, and we also had my daughter’s friend with us. With the promise of an ice cream at the end of the walk, we all set off.

All was fine until we came to a gate with a ‘Beware of the bull’ sign on it. (Not the one above). It is one of many such signs on the island and, to be honest, I have always suspected they are deterrents by landowners to stop people from walking on their lands. Of course there is a bull on the island but in all of my years coming to Sherkin Island, I have never seen one loose in a field.

Despite slight apprehension, we all climbed over the gate.

After a very steep grassy incline, we arrived up to the lighthouse where I took a 30 second detour around the side to admire the cliff edge view. As I passed by the front to make my way after the girls, the door was flung open by a very nice lady (I never knew it was occupied as a holiday let!) who came running out, waving her arms and shouting: ‘I wouldn’t go that way! There’s a bull loose in the field!’


I ran after the girls and could see that they had travelled at great speed in a downward slope in anticipation of that promised ice-cream. I was afraid to call them as I knew it would only attract attention so instead I scanned the landscape as I tore down those fields like a stealth bomber, keeping low and making as little noise as possible and all the way praying for their safety. The only sound I could hear was my heart drumming in my ears.

When I saw them climb over the gate at the end and out onto the road, my thoughts turned to my own safety. For once I wished that those eyes in the back of my head (you know, the ones that all Irish mammies have?) could actually see. Would the bull charge from behind or was he going to make a frontal assault? Should I try to outrun him or lie down and pretend to be another rock in the landscape? (You just need to picture the spinning head scene from the Exorcist here as I was going for a 360 degree view of my surroundings while racing downwards).

When I finally joined the girls and kissed the road them, I turned around and cast my eyes back up over the landscape. ‘Hmm, well that was a load of bull.’

Fast forward four years later to last August when I was walking the headland beyond Trá Crúa at the west end of the island when who should I spy with my little beady cameraphone eye?

(Excuse the picture quality).

Sherkin Bull

My first thought was ‘Oh my Gawd, (in my best Cork accent) what’s a buffalo doing on Sherkin Island?’ (Duh!) Then the chilling realisation dawned; I was looking at none other than the mythical Sherkin bull… and what a fine beastie he is.

Moral of the tale: heed signs.