Am Baile/Highland Libraries

Location: Skye
gaelic language and placenames

Tarbh uisge

A widower was living on Flodigarry island with his daughter. His daughter had taken a fancy to a young man from the nearest village across a channel of water on the Isle of Skye. The widower did not think that the young man was a suitable match and stopped the young couple from seeing each other.

At this time, the crops of the village on Skye were being damaged at night and the villagers blamed a Tarbh Uisge or water-bull. Despite this, the young man continued his relationship with the young woman by swimming across to see her.

One particular night, she was on the shore waiting when the young came to land he was in a terrible state. He said he heard the noise of a large beast snorting when he was swimming and was certain it was the Tarbh Uisge.

They decided that it was not safe to swim the channel anymore and agreed to elope. The young man returned the next night in a boat. On the way, he once more heard loud snorting. A large black head went past the boat. But it wasn’t a water-bull. It was the widower’s large black bull going to eat the grass in the village.

The young man did not tell her the truth for fear that she would not marry him. They soon left for Australia and only after they came back to Skye to visit family that the Tarbh Uisge had been her father’s bull.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.