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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