The Savage Pigs of Tulla

Folk tales really are as fascinating. One such tale is that of The Savage Pigs of Tulla.

I first read this story in Eddie Lenihans book by the same title. While I don’t claim to be as proficient a storyteller as Eddie I can at least give you the gist of the story. Bear in mind I’ve only read it once, so I may be a little shaky on a few of the finer details.

A man went from Tulla to the market, with his two prize pigs in the cart behind him. Big, fierce pigs and worth their weight they were, but the man failed to sell them at the market.

At the end of a long day, disheartened and with empty pockets, the man packed his pigs back into the cart and made his weary way home. Along the way he stopped at a Shibeen in Blacksticks for a quick sip. One pint turned to two and it was long dark by the time he climbed back up on his cart.

But the horse knew the way and so he set off and fell asleep. Swaying with the cart he toppled back into the cart.

Now anyone who has seen the movie Snatch may have an idea of what happened. If you’re squeamish, now is the time to look away.

The pigs had had a long day at the market. They were hungry. They ate the luckless farmer, leaving only his boots lying on the floor of the cart.

The horse was startled by the smell of blood from behind and bolted, running home and waking the mans wife as horse and cart clattered into the courtyard in a cloud of dust and sweat. The wife ran outside and seeing the cart with no rider was afraid that her husband lay somewhere in a ditch. She called for the neighbours.

They came and tried to calm her. Gearing up they got ready to set out and retrace the path to find her husband. Then someone looked into the cart and saw the boots…

In the commotion the wife came over and peered into the cart. She saw the blood, her husbands boots, and flew into hysterics.

One man ran for the priest, another for the guard. While the women consoled the poor mans wife, the men tried to decide what to do. The priest arrived and said that, as the man needed to be buried, and as he was inside the pigs, they should kill the pigs and bury them. That way at least all of the man would be in the same place.

They knew that the guard would not agree and would instigate an investigation so they set to work. Quickly slaughtering the pigs they set to work making a coffin to fit the two while some of the men ran ahead to begin the grave. The guard was on his way so the men put the pigs into the coffin, draped it in a cloth, and set of in funeral procession. They passed the guard on his way to the house.

Arriving at the churchyard they quickly buried the pigs, with the priest overseeing the funeral. The guard arrived as they were patting down the earth and demanded that they exhume the grave so that an investigation could be done. The priest refused to allow it.

And so the man was buried, in the stomachs of his pigs. And his gravestone commemorated his unusual situation in true countryside humour.

Pig gravestone

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