Country music singer Jimmy Buckley is a greyhound breeder and coursing sponsor

14 Jul

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Country music singer Jimmy Buckley is a greyhound breeder who is “fighting to keep the sport that he loves alive”. A Sunday World newspaper report – which includes a photo of a greyhound chained onto a treadmill and another of Buckley holding the head of a mother greyhound as she suckles her puppies – quotes him as saying: “When you have a new litter, I look at them and say, I wonder are any of you champions?”

Buckley is also shamefully involved in cruel hare coursing. In a past interview he said: “I always loved coursing. Been following it for many years. Something you can never get away from, thankfully. It’s a great escape from the music business.” He is also a sponsor of the cruel bloodsport – see https://banbloodsports.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/three-amigos-singer-sponsors-cruel-hare-coursing/

SUNDAY WORLD REPORT

Bord na Gone?
Passion: Jimmy is fighting to keep the sport that he loves alive
Country star Buckley slams greyhound chiefs for letting the industry go to the dogs.
Sunday World, May 7th 2017

Country music star Jimmy Buckley is being mobbed in a field outside the rural town of Athenry, Co. Galway.

As one of Ireland’s top entertainers, Buckley is used to the attention of excited fans at his gigs.

The singer is also familiar with the frenzy that erupts when we enter his land in Montpelier.

Jimmy’s voice breaks the silence around the idyllic, quiet townland and suddenly a sea of little heads pop up from the grass and race towards him.

Within seconds, the showbiz star is engulfed by a pack of young greyhounds.

Buckley is in his element as he grapples with them. Away from the glitz and glamour of showbusiness, breeding and racing greyhounds is Jimmy’s passion.

BREEDERS

Today, Jimmy talks about his background in the greyhound scene, at a time when the owners and breeders are at war with the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) over their decision to sell Harold’s Cross Stadium in Dublin.

Harold’s Cross is being offloaded to help tackle the IGB’s debit of more than €20 million, linked to the building of Limerick Greyhound Stadium.

Like owners and breeders around the country, Buckley is furious over the decision and has frequently joined the picket line in protest.

Tipperary TD Alan Kelly is backing their campaign and has been highly critical of the semi-state Irish Greyhound Board (Bord na gCon).

There are 19 greyhound stadiums around Ireland – including two in the North – of which 10 are operated by the IGB.

Kelly said this week that the greyhound industry “has been run into the ground.”

“I have lost confidence in the board. I also believe it’s an industry worth fighting for. The people who are in this industry are just ordinary people from every corner of Ireland and I think they are being treated very shabbily at the moment.”

Shelbourne Park has also been shut down for weeks after being picketed by the Dublin Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association over the IGB’s sale of Harold’s Cross.

“This industry is up in arms. I’ve never seen anything like it from an industry. This industry is very united. I saw that in the Horse & Jockey in Thurles a few weeks ago…700 people on a Sunday evening travelled there to express their views,” Kelly said.

Nobody understands the passion of greyhound enthusiasts more than country icon Buckley.

“When greyhounds get in your blood they are a lovely thing to be at,” Jimmy tells the Sunday World.

PRESSURES

“They’re just a lovely animal. For me, given the pressures that go with life in the music business, if there was a blood pressure monitor on me here, I guarantee you my reading would be normal. When I’m around my dogs for an hour, everything goes away. That’s really the solace I get from it.”

Jimmy comes from a family in Doon, Co. Limerick, that is steeped in the greyhound business. His brother Pat is one of the top greyhound trainers in the country.

“Pat has won everything you could possibly win with greyhounds,” Jimmy says. “He won the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Sweepstake Final at Limerick Greyhound Stadium in March with Bentekes Bocko. It was sponsored by JP and Noreen McManus and was worth €80,000.”

Looking back on his childhood, Buckley says: “We were reared on greyhounds. My dad got us into greyhounds at a very young age. As a youngster I used to love going to the races. Going to the sales in Dublin was also a big thing. It was like going to Florida for kids today.”

As a breeder today, Jimmy has made a significant investment in the facilities for his greyhounds. His centre at Montpelier in the Galway countryside is like an upmarket hotel for the dogs, with an indoor heated exercise pool, a treadmill, shower and grooming parlour. Outside, the greyhounds have fields to roam free in and gallops for exercise and training.

“I’ll never see the money back that I’ve invested here, I know that,” Jimmy says as he shows me around. “But I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it for the fact that I love the sport, and I’d love to see greyhound racing progressing.”

Buckley, of course, lives in hope that he’ll hit the jackpot. In his kennels, Jimmy shows me a new litter of pups suckling their mother.

“When you have a new litter, I look at them and say, I wonder are any of you champions?” he says.

RICH

“You look at the pups and you know what the father has done, the sire could have been a Derby winner and the dam, the mother, could have won races and you’re saying, ‘I wonder will they be like her?’…that’s the dream.

“It’s like the Lotto as everyone, rich or poor, can do it. The biggest man in the game to the smallest can produce a Derby winner.”

Jimmy says he’s sad to see the demise of the Irish greyhound industry in recent years.

“There is a lack of communication between the Greyhound Board and the grassroots. The IGB is not doing enough to promote the sport,” he says.

“There needs to be more accountability for people running the industry.

“The board members get their salaries without having to meet targets. The prize money has dropped, attendances at racing are down and it’s the domino effect.

“What’s happening at the top is impacting all the way down.

“The people on the greyhound board should be looking out for the people on the ground. After being reared with greyhounds I feel the baton has been passed on and we need to keep the flag flying for greyhound enthusiasts.”

DOG RACING BUSINESS IS OFF TRACK
By Eddie Rowley

The Irish greyhound racing industry has had a dramatic decline in fortunes over the last ten years.

In 2007, Bord na gCon, the Irish Greyhound Board, had a turnover of €65 million.

Today, it has dropped to under €30 million, a 56 percent reduction.

Back in 2006, the greyhound industry was outperforming horse racing at slightly over €50 million.

However, by 2015, horse racing had grown to nearly €80 million, while the greyhounds continued to see declines in revenue.

The IGB closed Harold’s Cross Stadium in February of this year as it struggled with a €21 million debt to AIB, linked to the construction of Limerick Greyhound Stadium.

A Comptroller and Auditor General report on the development of the Limerick Greyhound Stadium found that Bord na gCon’s borrowings has increased from approximately €11m in 2007 to twice that in 2014.

A total of €21m was spent on the Limerick Stadium at Greenpark, which was completed in October 2010.

ABANDONED

The development was green-lit without a capital project appraisal, an evaluation that assesses whether investments are justified on economic grounds and is required under government guidelines.

The report also documents how Bord na gCon purchased a site for the new stadium at Meelick in April 2005, at a cost of €1.02m, with further expenditure of €935,000, before deciding on building the stadium elsewhere.

Plans to build the stadium at the site in Meelick were abandoned after it became apparent that direct access from the site to the adjacent national road would not be allowed – a key risk that was identified in the consultants’ report prior to purchasing the site that was never presented to the board.

Deputy Alan Kelly of Labour said there was a “moral hazard” in selling Harold’s Cross Stadium and giving the funds to a board “which has seen the industry absolutely collapse over the last number of years and in debt of over €20 million because of bad decision making.”

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