The Ox Man of Wicklow

© Wolfgang Sauber CC BY-SA-3.0 via
Bearded woman of Limerick and Man-ox of Wicklow
© The Naked Bearded-Woman of Limerick and the Naked Man-Ox of Wicklow (detail) in Topographia Hibernica, ca. 1196-1223, Gerald of Wales. Colors and ink on parchment, 27.5 x 19cm. The British Library, London, Royal 13 B. viii, fol. 19.Manuscript: no known copyright restrictions. Digital image: via

This is a brief but unusual story about a man of the 12th century.

One of the books written by Gerald of Wales (1146-1223) was called Topographia Hiberniae dated 1188 and is an account of his journey to Ireland.  Gerald was an historian and a Cambro-Norman archdeacon of Brecon.  He had an Irish connection through his father William FitzOdo de Barry (or Barri) the common ancestor of the De Barry family of Ireland.  His mother was Angharad FitzGerald whose ancestors were the FitzGerald, FitzMaurice and Keating families of Ireland.

The Ox Man of Wicklow

On a visit to his FitzGerald cousins who were big land owners in East Wicklow, it is thought they told him the story of the Ox Man of Wicklow.  He included the story in his Topographia Hiberniae.

An unnatural union

The story goes that the Ox Man was fathered by a man in an unnatural union with a cow.  Gerald described him as a creature with a large bald head like an ox, with a flat face and two large eyes.  His nose was incomplete having only two holes like nostrils that issued a bull-like bellowing sound.  He had cloven hooves in place of hands and feet.  Gerald claimed the Ox Man ate his meals at the FitzGerald castle  every day.  Eventually, the Ox Man was killed by the Irish who apparently considered him an embarrassment.

Nobody knows if the Ox Man ever existed or was a story made up by Gerald to embellish his book and reaffirm his dislike of the Irish.  Gerald was no friend of the Irish and considered them ‘barbarians’ and ‘savages’.



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