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It's the story that has the whole country talking...bull.

It's the story that has the whole country talking...bull.

When a horny beast decided he didn't fancy the local females and preferred male company instead, it was time for him to hoof it - or face the chop.

Benjy the bull was facing a death sentence after his owner discovered he was gay.

The Charolais bull had the perfect job for a randy young animal, but wasn't too keen on the udder sex - he was more interested in chasing after other bulls. The farmer was planning to send Benjy to the butcher when he realised his stud was a dud.

But the bovine beefcake got a reprieve after a Hollywood producer bought his freedom, after his plight was highlighted by PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals], Irish animal rights group ARAN [Animal Rights Action Network] and TheGayUK.com.

Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon stumped up €5,000 to buy Benjy, while more than 250 other people have donated funds to have him transported to an animal sanctuary in the UK.

The bull will be off to his new home, Hillside Sanctuary, on December 17, says Ben Williamson of PETA. The identity of Benjy's owner has been kept a carefully guarded secret to avoid any embarassment for the farmer.

However, farmers at Roscommon Mart this week thought the secrecy was all a load of bullocks. "I have seen a few gay bulls but they're not my own," said Mark Gillooly from Knockroghery, Co Roscommon.

"I have 80 cattle myself and a few of the cows would be lesbian but I don't mind. If I had a gay bull and he wasn't breeding, I suppose I'd have to send him to the my life but I wouldn't be afraid to tell people about him.

"But it's more the heifers that are gay around here!" he laughed.

Beef-farmer Trevor Brennan from Lecarrow, Co Roscommon, said: "I've never seen a gay bull in my life. There's no such thing as a gay bull in Roscommon."

His pal Eamon Hussey from nearby Ballinalaugh added: "There's something in the air around here that has all the bulls straight and all the cows two ways."

"If he's a gay bull, he's not from around here - I think it's weird and I've never seen the like of it and I've been a cattle-farmer all my life. But I suppose times are changing and there are all sorts of animals just like people," said Paddy Beirne from Knockroghery.

"The Roscommon bulls know what it's for. I think there's a lot of the lesbian heifers around here but our bulls are all straight. We've a lot of shy bulls but they're just bachelor bulls like some the men. It's not that they fancy other bulls. They might just need a bit of encouragement," laughed PJ Doyle from Knockrogherhey.

Joe Davis from Kilteevan said: "I've never had a gay bull - thank God. I wouldn't know what to do with him. But I did have a lesbian cow - not a heifer either, a fully grown cow.

"It's common enough for cows to turn into lesbians when they're bulling - that means if there's no bull around and they're all in the shed together, they get a bit bored and start climbing up on each other. They're like young women."

Willie Stroker said he was glad he hadn't got a gay bull. "With my name I'd never live it down! But, aye, I have heard of them, and lesbian cows too. The blonde cattle are the worst for it - the blonde bulls are nearly all gay. I keep black cattle - the Angus breed - and they're all straight.

"Black cattle and blonde women -that's the way we like it in Roscommon. I'm a happy farmer because my bulls are black and my wife is a blonde woman - well, she is sometimes."

Con McGarry from Tulsk insisted: "We don't have gay bulls in Roscommon - because the grass here makes them straight. It's very fertile grass. The bulls that don't fancy the cows are just auld bachelors like a lot of the men around here," he joked.

"But if I found a gay bull in my herd I'd give him another bull for a companion - I'd want him to be happy. Then I'd send him off to be made into a burger."

Con, who is the captain of the Irish Sheepdog Trials team, says his rams are also straight. "You would never find a gay ram. But the ewes are a different story - they're always at each other. I just let them at it. You can't stop them and that's just the way they are.

"I wouldn't be against anyone being gay, there's nothing wrong with gays or lesbians whether they're people or animals. Live and let live - except when it's a bull and he's going to the slaughter.

"Whether a bull is gay or straight, he'll end up between two pieces of bread."

Benjy's current whereabouts remain a mystery as the farmer doesn't want to be identified. ARAN say he is in Co Mayo but earlier reports claimed he was in a counties Meath or Monaghan.

A source in Mayo said: "I heard he's in Claremorris but it's only rumour. I heard people saying he's afraid he will be made a laughing stock if other farmers hear he's the one with the gay bull."

Irish Independent