The Cow-Man of Wicklow and His Sad End July 27, 2012Posted by Beachcombing in : Medieval , trackback
A paddy-bashing story from one of the nastiest Irish-haters of them all: Gerald of Wales.
In the neighbourhood of Wicklow at the time when Maurice Fitzgerald got possession of the country and the castle, an extraordinary man was seen – if indeed it be right to call him a man. He had all the parts of the human body except the extremities which were those of an ox. From the joining of the hands with the arms and the feet with the legs, he had hooves, the same as an ox. He had no hair on his head, but was disfigured with baldness both in front and behind. Here and there he had a little down instead of hair. His eyes were huge and were like those of an ox both in colour, and in being round. His face was flat as far as his mouth. Instead of a nose he had two holes to act as nostrils, but no protuberance. He could not speak at all; he could only low. He attended the court of Maurice for a long time. He came to dinner every day, and, using his cleft hooves as hands, placed in his mouth whatever was given him to eat.
Beach wonders what illness this poor individual suffered from? drbeachcoming AT yahoo DOT com Naturally his neighbours spoke darkly about relations between a bovine and a human and things, of course, ended badly.
The Irish natives of the place, because the youths of the castle often taunted them with begetting such beings on cows, secretly killed him in the end in envy and malice – a fate which he did not deserve.
Gerald has a thing about zoophilia which does him little credit and that makes for some ghastly anecdotes: Or as he put it ‘how unworthy and unspeakable! How reason succumbs so outrageously to brute sensibility!
But as we are on the subject what about this one?
Shortly before the coming of the English [to Ireland] a cow, from a man’s intercourse with her – a particular vice of that people – gave birth to a man-calf in the mountains around Glendalough. From this you may believe that once again a man that was half an ox, and an ox that was half a man was produced. It spent nearly a year with the other calves following its mother and feeding on her milk, and then, because it had more of the man than the beast, was transferred to the society of men.
Was there really a calf-man (the victim of some horrific disorder). Or is this more evidence of the taunts of the boys from the castle?