Miranda Green (‘The Gods of the Celts’: The History Press, 2011) gives an example of a “silver washed three horned bull”, which was found at a shrine in Dorset, England, and dates from the middle of the fourth century CE.
She gives the figures we can see on it’s back as deities, and makes links with the above mentioned bull carrying three cranes - saying they may be examples of the shape shifting we hear about in the tales.
It is possible. What evidence we have, in Ireland and abroad, certainly shows a respect for the attributes of the tarbh (pron. Tar-ev). As a Taurean myself, I am totally down with the idea of a kick ass Lord of the Bulls, or one who can shift at will to bull form, with all the wonderful qualities that would bring to a situation. Can you spot the bull bias here?! However, having yet to be introduced to such an entity, or personally encounter one on my travels, I will content myself with exploring, for now, the idea of working with the bull as a ‘power animal’.
It doesn’t have to be a bull either. I am as sick as the next person of coming across those people who assert in all earnestness that their power animal is something ultra cool, like a super sleek panther, or a super strong stallion, when they remind you of nothing more than an ageing shetland pony, a bit knackered and up for nothing more than a quiet corner of paddock and a hay hammock which runneth over. Hey, who knows, maybe that stallion is in there somewhere, stabled for now but ready to break free at the slightest hint of filly. Stranger things have happened.
There are also associations astrologically between Ireland and the sign of Taurus. William Lilly’s “Christian Astrology”, which first appeared in 1647 and was reprinted in 1985 (by Regulus Publishing Co., London), places Ireland - along with Switzerland and Cypress, among others - as a Kingdom which is specifically associated with the sun sign of Taurus, the bull. The Easter Rising, which marked the establishment of the free Irish Republic and the attainment of political independence in Ireland, was an armed uprising of Irish nationalists against British Rule. It happened on Easter Monday, April 24th, 1916, and centred mainly in Dublin, placing it firmly in the realm of the Bull.
Since an tarbh is of such importance in the Irish (and Celtic) legends and history, it’s as good a place to start as any.