In a story that would rival the plot of Tom Hanks’ Castaway, a Co Meath farmer was astounded to find a cow missing for two months had turned up with an amazing story of survival – on a deserted island.
Farmer Sean Kelleher, from Cormeen, Co Meath, had given up all hope of finding his cow after she disappeared at the end of July, and even took the step of following procedure by informing the Department of Agriculture that the cow was lost.
Kelleher cows are situated on land near Breakey Lough in the area and Sean had feared the cow may have drowned in the Lough, or that she had been stolen.
After searching high and low for her, he and his family were forced to accept the cow was gone.
So Kelleher was staggered to receive a call on Sunday morning last from his neighbour, saying that he had spotted his lost cow on a tiny island in the middle of the Lough.
The island – too small to have its own name – was so overgrown that it was almost impossible for humans to land on it, and locals say no one had been there in decades.
Given the depth of the water surrounding the island, it was never thought the cow could have reached it, but swim she did.
Sean’s theory is that she had been knocked into the water by the rest of the herd at their drinking point on the wider side of the Lough, and astonishingly managed to swim over 200 yards (about one and a half GAA pitches) in the deep water to the island.
In her desperation to stay alive, she consumed the majority of the island’s vegetation to feed herself, even eating ivy and the bark from trees to keep going – which ended up being the only reason she was spotted at all.
After being told of the cow’s plight, local man Kevin Carolan travelled to the island by boat with his three daughters - Niamh, Rachel and Orlaith - with food to help her, after arranging it with Kelleher.
It was only when the Carolans landed the boat that the cow’s reason for survival became apparent: the family were shocked to see the cow had been rearing a completely healthy little calf on the island, with Niamh capturing the moment on her smartphone.
Kevin told breakingnews.ie: “We were delighted, it was obvious the calf had never had human contact before.
“It was leaping and jumping like mad! The cow herself was in a poor enough state and we gave her some special feed to help her."
Farmer Sean was reunited with the cow and his new calf yesterday and he, along with Kevin, have been using Carolan’s boat to feed the pair every day since they were found after consulting with the local vet on how to best deal with the situation.
Sean told breakingnews.ie he was stunned by the turn of events.
“I was utterly perplexed as to where she had got to, I had feared the worst," he said.
“She was gone so long I had to give up on her. I am delighted and very surprised to have her back and to have the puzzle solved."
Sean had known his cow was in-calf and is amazed that not only the cow survived so long, but she also managed to give birth alone and raise her calf - which he estimates is a few weeks old.
Sean has taken inspiration from the classic Daniel Defoe castaway novel Robinson Crusoe and named the calf ‘Sunday’ after the day it was found, similar to the character ‘Friday’ in the book.
After her ordeal Kelleher added there is a debate locally as to what to name the cow, with ‘Rambling Rose’ cropping up on a few occasions.
Plans are now underway to take the two off their island home and move them back to Sean’s farm.
Meath River Rescue have kindly offered to help out the two and bring them across the Lough this Saturday.
Sean believes the calf will be sedated and placed on a boat to be brought to dry land. The cow, however, faces one more hurdle on her epic adventure.
Christopher Rennicks of Meath River Rescue told us that she will have to be fitted with a harness, which will aid her to finally swim back to shore.
The rescue is scheduled to take place at around 10am on Saturday and the efforts should take about an hour and a half.
Sean then plans to take every step necessary to make sure the dynamic duo regain full health and said they will probably become pets on the family farm.
We think ‘Rambling Rose’ is quite a fitting name for this heroic cow and really hope all goes well for the two rovers.
Hat tip: Eoin English from the Irish Examiner.