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Monday 20 November 2017

Mum of four trampled by beach bull 'feared for life'

Anita Guidera

A WOMAN had a miraculous escape after being knocked to the ground and trampled on by a bull close to a popular beach.

Mother-of-four Sonya Byrne (46), from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, and her 11-year-old son Patrick were walking their dogs at the back of Mullaghmore beach in north Co Sligo when the attack occurred last Sunday evening.

They were walking close to cows and calves on commonage land, which is not fenced off from the beach, when a bull emerged from the herd and began charging towards them.

"They all started to stampede. I could hear the snorting.

"The bull butted me in the base of my back and I was knocked to the ground. I could see Patrick's legs and I could see other animal legs and I thought 'this is us. We are the last walkers here tonight and we will not be found until morning. We're goners'," she recalled yesterday.

She added that the bull had trampled on the back of her left thigh with its hoof and injured the calf of her left leg and ankle.

"I knew it wasn't a cow because there was no udder over my head. At the time I wasn't aware of any injury. When I let go of the dog, which is a Great Dane, the bull went after the dog. I suppose it was what it was after," she said.

A traumatised Sonya, who was also terrified for the safety of her son, managed to muster up the strength to scare the other cattle away before telephoning a family member for help.

She was taken to Sligo General Hospital where she was treated for swelling on her thigh which was so severe there was a danger that it could cut off blood supply to her lower leg.

"I was told when I went back for a follow- up appointment on Tuesday that I wouldn't lose my leg, so that obviously was a worry," she said.

She is haunted by the thought that if her son had been holding the dog's lead, he may not have survived the attack.

"If the hoof would have hit him anywhere on his body, he wouldn't have lived to tell the tale," she said.

The Byrne family has appealed to the local authority to take action to prevent such attacks happening in the future.

"Hundreds of people walk through this area to get to the beach with dogs and there has never been a problem before.

"Generally, the cows and calves are harmless. That big burly beast should be behind an electric fence. It wouldn't take that much to fence off one area," said Sonya, who is unsure whether she will return to the Sligo village.

Investigation

Sligo County Council said it was carrying out an investigation and had advised the public that the beach was unsafe.

Local councillor, Patsy Barry (FF) said that the incident had shown why the local authority withdrew lifeguards from the beach two years ago.

"The council only owns a small portion of the land. A number of landowners own the land and they are entitled to graze their cattle. Young bulls are a relatively new phenomenon with grazing cattle," he said.

"Unless the council was to get control of the property and fence off the beach area, there is very little they can do," he added.

Irish Independent

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