Pamplona bull run


Sir,– The injuring of four people during the annual Pamplona bull run (“Pamplona bull run leaves four hospitalised on first day”, July 7th) is another reminder of how cruel and irresponsible this barbaric ritual is, despite the romanticised image that attaches to it in the minds of the heartless, the deluded and the misinformed.

Apart from the risk to human participants, the bulls don’t deserve this vile mistreatment. They are goaded by “sportspeople” who prod them or administer electric shocks prior to the run. The animals are teased and aggravated to the point of frenzy, and the presence of so many people – standing, gesticulating, or running along the narrow cobbled streets – adds to their fear and distress.

Traumatic though the run is for them, the bulls are afterwards subjected a far worse ordeal. They are tortured to death in another so-called traditional event, the bullfight, in which they are hacked and stabbed with razor-sharp lances before being teased by a caped matador who dispatches him with a sword thrust. All for the edification of a blood-crazed mob that wouldn’t look out of place in an ancient Roman coliseum.

The biggest myth surrounding this twisted and sadistic form of entertainment is the notion that the matador, whatever one thinks of the “sport”, is a heroic fellow who puts his life on the line in the pursuance of a noble custom.

In fact, apart from the softening-up process in the ring with the repeated stabbing by the picadors, the bull is also weakened even before entering the ring. This is accomplished by beating the animal with great force over the kidneys and rubbing Vaseline into its eyes to impair vision.

I find it revolting that the Pamplona “festival” is still being covered by the media as an almost normal cultural activity. It doesn’t deserve any such standing. It belongs, not in the annals of culture or legitimate tourism but in the dustbin of history, along with bear baiting, hare coursing, and dog fighting. That there are people who organise and participate in such barbarism is a disgrace to humanity. – Yours, etc,


Lower Coyne Street,


Co Kilkenny.