There was once a little boy who was living in a house with his father and mother. When he was very young his mother died and his father married again. Now the little boy had a stepmother. After a time the stepmother grew cross with him and she used to make him work very hard. The boy would have to get up very early every morning and go up in a high mountain minding cattle and sheep. When he would come home in the evening she used only give him very little to eat. In the farm where the boy was minding the cattle there was a big grey bull. This bull was a magic one and he knew all about the little boy and the cruelty of his stepmother. The bull used to know to when the boy was hungry. The bull used to come to the boy every day and tell him to tip the ground three times with a stick and when he would do that a beautiful table was set before him in the ground and he could be eating till he was tired. Now the stepmother did not know why the boy used not be hungry. She was guessing the boy was getting food some way.
Then the stepmother sent out her daughter to watch if the boy would get food from anybody. The girl grew tired and she fell asleep. Then the magic bull came to the boy and told him to eat now that the girl was asleep. The girl went home and she told her mother that she didn’t see anybody giving him food. The mother then sent out her second daughter then but it was the same way. The third girl went out. She had an eye in the back of her head and the grey bull thought she was sleeping but she could see with the eye she had in the back of her head. When she went home she told her mother about the bull.
When the mother heard this, she decided to put the magic bull to death. The bull knew now that he was going to be killed so he was very sad. The bull then told the boy when he would be killed to tear a strip of his shin along his back and to keep it where ever he would go. He also told him to leave his stepmother altogether. The bull was killed then and the boy did as he was told. After a while the boy left his stepmother and he went off till he came to a gentleman’s house. The gentleman was very glad to have the boy for minding his cattle for him.
In the farm where the cattle were there was a big castle and in that castle, there were three big giants. One day the boy went into the castle and there was beautiful fruits growing inside in the castle. He went up in one of the trees. When he was up in the tree one of the giants were going to kill him. But the boy killed him with a slap of the belt which he got from the magic bull. He killed the other two giants the same way. The magic belt was able to do wonderful things.
Collector: Annie Healy
Informant: Mary Healy (parent), Parkroe, Co. Galway
Place: Milltown, Co. Galway
Footnote: Duchas, http://www.duchas.ie