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Girl who spotted Irish walrus has ideas for names – depending on if it’s a boy or a girl


The walrus on Valentia Island. Picture: Alan Houlihan © Eye Focus LTD

The walrus on Valentia Island. Picture: Alan Houlihan © Eye Focus LTD

The walrus on Valentia Island. Picture: Alan Houlihan © Eye Focus LTD

The young girl who first spotted the walrus thought to have drifted to Ireland from the Arctic has come up with names for the creature – depending on whether it turns out to be male or female.

The giant walrus the size of a dairy bull landed on the rocks in Valentia Island in an extremely rare appearance of the North Pole species in Ireland.

Local man Alan Houlihan and his five-year-old daughter Muireann spotted it breaching out of the water as they walked along Glanleam Beach on the Kerry island on Sunday morning.

A video taken by Mr Houlihan shows the walrus climbing ashore.

It is believed the Arctic creature could have fallen asleep on an iceberg before being carried across the Atlantic ocean to Kerry.

Mr Houlihan said Muireann was the first to spot the giant creature on their stroll.

“Muireann is the David Attenborough of Valencia Island,” Mr Houlihan said.

“He’s huge, he’s about the size of a bull or a cow.

“Myself and my daughter were out walking on the beach down near the lighthouse,” he said. “He breached out of the water onto the rocks and gave us a bit of a show.

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“I thought it was a seal at first and then we saw the tusks. He kind of jumped up on the rocks. He was massive. He was about the size of a bull or a cow, pretty similar in size, he’s big, big.

“He was right beside us, less than 50 metres away from us. He went off again for a while and he came back and went back to the rocks.

“He was sitting on the rock now kind of posing, at one stage there he threw up a fin and it looked like he was giving us all the birdie.”

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Mr Houlihan added: “I hadn’t seen anything like it before, in Ireland anyway. I’ve never seen one. I spent my younger years fishing with my father and I’ve never seen anything like it in Irish water anyway.”

He went to check if the walrus was still there this morning, saying: “I went down early this morning and there’s no sign of him, so I hope he’s eating scallop and getting ready for his journey back.”

His daughter has also set out two possible names for the walrus. “If it’s a girl she wants it Isabelle, and if it’s a boy she wants it Cian,” Mr Houlihan said.

The director of Dingle Oceanworld, Kevin Flannery, said it is an amazing sight.

“It’s incredible. This is the first confirmed sighting of a walrus. It’s a one-off as far as I’m concerned.

”I haven’t seen it before, maybe others might have thought they saw one before but this is a definite confirmation of one.”

The leading marine biologist has his own theory on how he ended up in Kerry.

“He’s from the Arctic. I’d say what happened is he fell asleep on an iceberg and drifted off and then he was gone too far, out into the mid-Atlantic or somewhere like that down off Greenland possibly,” Mr Flannery said.

“He would be pretty tired and pretty hungry at this stage.

“That is usually what happens to them is that they fall asleep on an iceberg and then get carried off from the Arctic.”

He urged the public to give the walrus some peace to recuperate from his mammoth journey.

“He’s on the rocks asleep. I’m asking for people to leave him rest until he goes back.

“I’ve seen pictures of him sent to me by Seanie Murphy, the ex (coxswain) of the lifeboat, and I’ve confirmed he is a walrus, not a seal with a toothache.”

Mr Houlihan, who grew up on the island, said the walrus was shivering on the rocks before he left him yesterday.

“I don’t know if he is well," he said.

Mr Flannery said the walrus’s tusks are used for digging out clams on the ground.

“Hopefully he’ll get a few scallops around Valentia.

“But at this point, he wants to rest. He’s come from the North Pole, possibly off Greenland.

“He could also be island-hopping and went to Iceland and on to Shetland but that’s unlikely. I’d say he came in out of the Atlantic. It’s thousands of miles away.

“If he regains his strength hopefully he’ll make his way back up.”

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