Ireland is not civilised as long as it continues to allow hare coursing

7 Dec

ireland is not civilised as long as it allows coursing copy

Ireland is not civilised as long as it continues to allow hare coursing. Those who support coursing are savages. Those who allow it to continue in law are quislings – Read Damien Enright’s column in today’s Irish Examiner…

The slaughter of hares should shame the nation
Irish Examiner, 7 Dec 2020
Damien Enright –

Ireland is not civilised as long as it continues to allow the killing of hares by greyhounds for sport, according to Damien Enright.

As a child, I saw hare coursing. I heard a hare screaming as it was torn apart by two greyhounds. Each dog struggled to tear it away from the other. I didn’t like it. It disturbed me. I guess I was about eleven years old. I believe it was in Co Tipperary, near Thurles. My father had taken me.

If I said it was bloody awful, I’d mean it literally. At that time, greyhounds wore no muzzle at such sporting events. I can’t imagine who it was sport for, other than the dogs, the clubbable coursers, and the bloodthirsty spectators, of which I wasn’t one.

Neither can I imagine why my father took me there. I believe it was the only coursing we ever attended. He wasn’t a cruel man; not in any way. He helped me keep numerous pets: White mice, guinea pigs,, and hamsters (when they first became available in Ireland, at King’s Pet Shop in Capel St, Dublin City). And, of course, I had my personal dog, my faithful friend, who went everywhere with me, except maybe to school, Mass, or confession.

My father fed the birds in winter — made a whole duty of it. I remember a winter when Co Tipperary was snowbound and birds in scores descended on our yard to feed on the scraps that my dad put out after breakfast and dinner, and after he finished work. Some continued to feed under the backyard light.

There were, of course, more birds then. Loads of starlings and sparrows. Flocks of thrushes, probably migrant redwings and fieldfares, along with our local song and mistle thrushes. Blackbirds, hedge sparrows, pied wagtails and tits, blue, coal, and great.

My dad had created a series of upturned, bottomless wooden boxes, with reducing access, so that while jackdaws and magpies could feed at the outer boxes, only smaller birds could access the ones beyond, the final box allowing only the blue tits and wrens. Yes, insectivore wrens. Or one wren. The winter was so hard, and the birds so hungry, that I recall my father pointing out a little wren making its way to the inner sanctum accessible only to birds of its size.

The diet was stale bread (soaked in dripping fat), and potatoes, and seeds of some kind. My father, born on a farm in Co Clare, loved nature, and passed that love on to me. Not being a cruel man, why did he take me to coursing? Maybe it was a “blooding” for me, to show me what cruelty to the most innocuous and most ancient of Ireland’s fauna looked like. But surely not…

He would never shoot a hare. With his .22 rifle, he’d shoot a rabbit now and then, for the pot, or a wood pigeon.

But when we saw a hare, distinctive by its colour and pricked-up ears, he’d say no, and we’d go on to look for rabbits. This was pre-myxomatosis. Farmers and gardeners were glad to have them culled, and who could blame them.

It is extraordinary to see that the coursing clubs of Ireland (ICC) are still allowed to capture, imprison, and set dogs upon one of the very few truly native mammals of Ireland.

Hares survived the Ice Age, 10,000 years ago, and would have been here for millennia before it. They are beautiful creatures, emblematic of wild places, where each animal leads a solitary life, except at breeding time, when the females rear their leverets in a scoop of grass. But pregnant females, too, are captured by sporting men with nets, to be kept in pens until they are ready to be released, gravid with young, to the dogs.

Our fellow Irish creature, Lepus timidus hibernicus, found nowhere else on Earth, is celebrated in our folklore, literature, and music. It is all things Irish, even down to the russet red or golden brown of its fur. And we allow our lawmakers to make it “game”, for beasts.

While we flog to death the word “wild” in the context of Wild Atlantic Way, our government allows the baiting of a creature symbolic of wildness, baiting as in bear baiting, where a bear was tied to a stake to be attacked by mastiffs, the idea of which we abhor.

Yet, while England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland prohibit coursing, we, in 21st century Ireland, allow it. What a sorry indictment of our claim to be civilised people at the cutting edge of Europe. Those who support coursing are savages. Those who allow it to continue in law are quislings. They should try being hunted down by Rottweilers — but given a so-called escape route at the end of the course, of course.



Join us in urging Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien and Minister of State Malcolm Noonan to suspend the licence which allows coursers to capture hares for their barbarity.

Minister Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fail, Dublin Fingal)
Tel: (01) 618 3802

Malcolm Noonan TD (Carlow Kilkenny)
Minister of State for Heritage
Tel: (01) 6183148

Contact all TDs and urge them to back a ban on coursing. Visit the Oireachtas website for contact details

Urge Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar to respect the wishes of the majority and ban hare coursing and all bloodsports.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Phone: +353 (0)1–618 4350 or +353 (0)21-432 0088

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar
Telephone: +353 (0)1-640 3133
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Contact Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Green Party, Sinn Fein and Labour Party TDs and ask them to back a ban on cruel hare coursing.

Fianna Fail TDs;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Fine Gael TDs;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Patrick.O’;;;;;;;;;

Green Party TDs;;;;;;;;;;

Sinn Fein TDs;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Labour Party TDs;;;;;

Please sign and share the petitions

Ban Blood Sports in Ireland

Ireland – Ban cruel hare coursing

Witness the cruelty of hare coursing in Ireland

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