Whatever about climate change and forest fires, many people in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic look forward each year to a holiday in the sun, and Spain is at the top of their list of options.
Understandably, because it’s a beautiful country with stunning beaches, hotels, and scenery, and you’ll meet wonderful people there.
But not everything about it is wonderful. The bullfighting season is in full swing and continues until mid -October. The traditional image of the bullfight is of a brave man, the Matador, nimbly dodging a charging bovine, swishing his cape and putting his life on the line to entertain.
Unfortunately, the truth is very different. Before it enters the ring the bull has Vaseline rubbed into its eyes to impair vision and is beaten over the kidneys to weaken it further. And the contest is not just between a bull and a daintily-dressed swashbuckling fellow who wouldn’t look out of place in a comic opera.
The bull is stabbed repeatedly by horsemen with razor sharp lances, inflicting unbearable pain on an animal already weakened from extreme disorientation resulting from its earlier “softening up” treatment.
The Matador can afford to take some risks, faced as he is by an animal that is already close to collapse. Then, when he has extracted sufficient entertainment value from his prancing around the ring, taunting the bull and eliciting cheers from the baying fans, this “brave “ man pushes sword down between the shoulder blades of the pain-racked bull.
The mighty creature, snatched from a field in the countryside for this spectacle, is brought low, with nobody there to ease his plight… just a cheering, blood-lusting crowd.
If you opt to enjoy a holiday in Spain this year, please don’t attend a bullfight. There are enough tourists attending bullfights just once in their lives to keep the vile practice alive. Significantly, a majority of Spaniards now want bullfighting banned, but it thrives on “curiosity tourism”...fostered by the notion that one simply must see this great “tradition.”
Well, there’s nothing to see but the agonizing death of a bull.
Please don’t become part of that audience. If you do, you might as well assist the Matador to stab that tortured animal in the back.
So, enjoy the sun, but skip the cruelty!
John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co Kilkenny