Sunday 23 november 2014 7 23 /11 /Nov /2014 01:23




The recent death of ex-senator and architect, Jack Fitzsimons of Kells, County Meath, has been keenly felt by his family and by the many people who knew him in his former professions. Readers of his best-selling book, Bungalow Bliss, will remember him too for his professional and easy to follow advice on affordable house designs.


But those of us concerned about the protection of Ireland’s wildlife heritage will cherish his commitment to the campaign to outlaw the cruel practice of live hare coursing. Following two terms as a senator, Jack stood in the local elections on an anti-blood sports ticket, seeking a mandate for his view that hare coursing should be banned.


He was elected to Meath County Council on that platform and worked tirelessly to highlight the plight of the gentle and inoffensive creatures that are snatched from our countryside to serve as live bait.


He organized a march from his native Kells to Dublin, where he spoke to a large gathering outside the Dail about the need to protect the Irish Hare, stressing its unique place in our culture and ecology, and its status as a living link to the last Ice Age.


He backed Tony Gregory’s attempt in 1993 to tackle hare coursing via a Private Members Bill. Though the measure was voted down, it shamed coursing clubs into muzzling greyhounds, a de facto recognition on their part that hares were suffering in their “sport.”


In 1994 Jack published a book with the ironic title of Coursing Ban be Damned, in which he made a powerful case against hare coursing, citing both conservationist data and scientific studies that proved hares suffer immense distress and trauma as a result of being coursed by hyped-up dogs, even when they manage to avoid outright physical injury. He also touched upon the deep divisions that the anti hare coursing campaign had created among politicians and how the lavishly financed pro-hunting lobby had succeeded in distorting the political process in favour of blood sports.


Jack ran as an independent protest candidate in the 1994 European Parliament election, prioritizing his opposition to “hare coursing and fox hunting.”


Though he did not live to see his beloved Irish Hare safeguarded from recreational cruelty, Jack Fitzsimons helped through his writings and political campaigning to prepare the way for future legislation on the issue.


There are those who will decry his emphasis on the hare’s sad plight, but none will deny that he was an honest and brave politician, who did what he believed to be RIGHT, as distinct from what was politically expedient.

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Saturday 8 november 2014 6 08 /11 /Nov /2014 15:57
Despite repeated claims by Irish government officials that hare coursing events are not held in adverse weather conditions, the evidence shows the opposite: Here, in this video clip of a recent hare coursing fixture in Ireland, heavy rain is clearly falling on the baiting venue.
Setting up our iconic Irish Hare as live bait, to be terrorised and often mauled or otherwise injured to amuse gambling fans is bad enough...but it happens in hail, rain, snow, or with high winds blowing, adding to the hare's plight as it seeks to dodge the pursuing greyhounds. Pro hare coursing politicians continue to deny this proven fact. They routinely rise in the Dail (Irish parliament) and glibly announce that coursing clubs always take care not to allow hares "perform" in inclemant weather.
Such assurances are easily refuted by the simple truth caught on camera:
Have a look:
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Tuesday 4 november 2014 2 04 /11 /Nov /2014 19:42

November 4th 2014

Millstreet is small town in County Cork, Ireland, with a population of around 1,500. Located at the foot of Clara Mountain it came to prominence internationally in 1993 when the Eurovision Song contest was staged there. It is also, unfortunately, the venue for one of the vilest blood sports on the planet.


Every year, part of the Town Park, (the park plays host to football matches and is frequented by toddlers and keep fit enthusiasts) is converted for use as a live hare coursing arena. Sections of the park are closed to the public for seven weeks leading up to the two day hare baiting session.  Organizers capture hares in the surrounding countryside, transport them to the venue in crates, and hold them in unnatural captivity prior to baiting.  


During the seven week “lock-down” period coursing heavies keep watch in the park and anyone who shows an unfriendly interest in the preparations for the hare baiting event is “cautioned” or told off.


On coursing day the animals are forced to run from pairs of greyhounds, to be mauled, struck, tossed about like broken toys, or otherwise injured within the confines of a wired enclosure in the park. Injured hares are finished off by coursing officials who wring, stretch, or break their necks. Other hares die after the event from stress-related ailments.


Next January 3rd and 4th, hares will again have to endure this real live horror show… unless a decision is taken by the Town Park Committee to say no to the hare coursing club.


That such a vile spectacle should be allowed to take place anywhere in Ireland is bad enough, but the Town Park in Millstreet also serves as a sports venue and recreation area. Mothers with their babies in prams or buggies visit it regularly to avail of the facilities at the park, as do very young children.

The holding of a despicably cruel event (one that is a criminal offence in Britain, Northern Ireland and most of Europe) at this urban centre that prides itself on “catering for all the family” is doubly inappropriate.

There is widespread opposition in the town of Millstreet and district to the staging of hare coursing in the park.  The annual event is spurned as an embarrassment to the district that does nothing to promote the town’s image as a tourist attraction. Locals have pleaded with the Town Park Committee, which decides what can and cannot happen in the park, to disallow this horrible cruelty being organized in their name.


Last year a petition was handed in to the Committee requesting that the park not in future be closed down for seven weeks to accommodate the hare coursing fixture. To date, the Committee has failed to respond to these concerns.

Maybe this year, with increasing local opposition to hare coursing in the locality, compassion will win through and this stain on the town’s reputation will be removed.


If you are planning to visit Millstreet (whether from other parts of Ireland or from abroad as tourists), please consider making known your objection to the use of its prized Town Park for hare coursing cruelty.


I can empathize with the plight of locals in Millstreet who find themselves up against a brick wall on this issue. I know from personal experience how powerful the hare coursing clubs can be in some rural districts, the fear they generate, and the bullying tactics they employ against animal protection people…or indeed anyone who stands in their way. I wrote about this in my book Bad Hare Days and the opening chapters can be read on the Amazon site at:







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Monday 4 august 2014 1 04 /08 /Aug /2014 13:41





It’s that time of year again, when Ireland's Minister for Arts and Heritage must decide whether to license the capture of thousands of hares for use as live bait in coursing. If the Minister grants the license, the gentlest creatures of our verdant Irish countryside will have to face almost five months of abject terror and suffering, starting in late September. They will be snatched their natural habitat by gangs of men and boys using nets,  manhandled and thrown into small crates, conveyed to places of detention, and after weeks of captivity they will be forced to “perform.”


None of this activity serves any scientific or pest control purpose. Nor are the animals captured for food. The sole purposes of coursing are gambling and entertainment. Each greyhound has his or her official name, called out proudly over the public address system. The hares have no names. They are mere pawns in a deadly and one-sided game that bears comparison with Russian roulette: Some hares make it through the escape hatch...but others die as a direct result of being coursed, either from being struck forcibly by the larger and faster dogs, or from stress-related ailments arising from their unnatural captivity or the chase itself.


Reports from National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers that attended a number of coursing events last season have become available in the past week under FOI. They show that hares continue to suffer in coursing despite muzzling of greyhounds. The reports refer to hares being struck, mauled, and horribly injured at coursing events held in different counties. Interesting, these latest NPWS reports quote coursing officials referring to hares that have been savaged by greyhounds as “requiring assistance”. A sickening euphemism, but in keeping with their bizarre, repeated claim that hares enjoy being coursed, and that coursing benefits the hare population.


As if this noble creature that survived the last Ice Age required the “assistance” of people who set it up to be hounded, terrorized, and battered by dogs.


The NPWS reports are backed up by video recordings made by animal welfare volunteers at other coursing fixtures that show hares being mauled or tossed into the air by salivating dogs. The damning footage can be viewed on


There is no excuse for the use of live lures in coursing. In Australia and Europe, hares have been replaced by mechanical lures and this has in no way diminished the enjoyment of the fans: Recently the European Coursing Championships were held in Italy, drawing thousands of spectators from across the continent and beyond…and not a single hare was subjected to the horrors that Irish coursing clubs inflict on these animals.

Minister Humphreys could make history by refusing the hare capture license. This is 2014, not the Dark Ages. Live hare coursing is way past its sell-by date.


A video clip from a hare coursing event in Co. Limerick:


Further Details of the NPWS reports referred to:


Anti hare coursing protest at St Patrick's Day Parade in Ne


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Tuesday 22 april 2014 2 22 /04 /Apr /2014 20:28

April 21st 2014  


Dear Friends,


The Irish Government has commissioned report on the country’s greyhound industry that will focus on all aspects of this appallingly cruel industry.  When complete (likely sometime in June though the exact is unknown as yet) the report and its recommendations will be debated by the Irish Parliament, the Dail.


Regardless of what recommendations the report makes (and no animal protection organization expects any hard-hitting ones), we all wish to see an end to the horrific practise of live hare coursing in Ireland, a practise that is cruel to hares and greyhounds alike.


The hares are snatched from the Irish countryside and forced to run from pairs of greyhounds in wire-enclosed fields or parks.  Fans place bets on the competing dogs.


Many hares are mauled or pinned to the ground by the dogs, or tossed up into the air like paper toys. Others die literally of fright, suffering heart attacks. Hares that survive the coursing ordeal often stagger away to die later from stress-related conditions.


The greyhounds are doped to make them run faster, or to slow them down if this is what suits a trainer or the various gambling gangs. They are also fed LIVE animals such as cats, rabbits and unfit hares, the idea being to “blood” them and thus enhance their performance in coursing.  (A link to footage of hare coursing is provided below for anyone who wishes to see what it involves).


Greyhounds that fail to perform in coursing are killed, usually by being beaten to death with spades or shovels, or are simply abandoned in the countryside.


The Government had an excellent opportunity to outlaw this blood sport under its Animal Health and Welfare Bill a few months ago. Instead, it did the exact opposite: to the astonishment and revulsion of animal rights and animal welfare groups, it inserted a provision into the legislation to PROTECT hare coursing and exempt it from prohibition.


The upcoming report and the parliamentary debate flowing from it will present another opportunity to persuade our government to ban hare coursing.


We are appealing to all friends of animals to press for an end to hare coursing and the ill-treatment of greyhounds in Ireland in the coming days...(up to the end of May) in the run-up to the report’s publication... by sending a simple message to members of the Irish Parliament, requesting action on the issue.


You can send the message to ALL members of parliament by emailing it to yourself and sending a “Blind Back-up Copy” to them.


Having typed your message (even the briefest one will suffice) simply copy & paste the list below into the Blind Back-up Copy (“BBC”) line and then email the message to yourself.


Here is the “block” list of all members of Ireland’s parliament.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,




Alternatively you can send a tweet to the Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland (message already included in tweet), which calls for a ban on hare coursing and other cruel practises.


To do so, just click on this:


Tweet to @EndaKennyTD



Further info:

A brief film on hare coursing in Ireland:



Video clips showing typical hare coursing scenes:



Video clip one: Hare cries out when hit and mauled...!



Video clip two: Hare severely mauled and carried off field...!


Thanking you,


 John Fitzgerald,


 Campaign for the Abolition

 of Cruel Sports


two coursing fans with dying hare



clare d with dog and protesters


Anti hare coursing protest at St Patrick's Day Parade in Ne

picture of cruelty in action

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