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December 25 2012 3 25 /12 /December /2012 21:14

The following article appeared in the Irish Times of December 24th 2012. It is a tribute to a lifelong campaigner against blood sports in Ireland...



Appreciation: Hilda Allen


A woman who played a major role in the campaign against blood sports for over three decades has passed away.


Hilda Allen (nee McCawley) of Blackrock, Dublin, died of heart failure on November 24th, aged 93.

Hilda became involved with the Irish Council Against Blood Sports shortly after its formation in 1966. Her husband Sean was Irish Council Against Blood Sports chairman and Hilda was equally devoted, as Treasurer and Executive Committee member, to the wildlife protection cause.


Hilda grew up in Rathmines. In her teens, a motor bike rolled over her left foot on a beach, resulting in amputation below the knee. But she never allowed this to diminish her zest for life. She worked for many years with Mitchell’s, the wine merchants, in Kildare Street, later taking up freelance typing as a career.


After her marriage to Sean Allen, an ESB accountant, the couple moved to Dun Laoghaire. Hilda was a great socialite. Though she had no children, she also had no shortage of friends. Her interests ranged from debating societies to a love of theatre and gardening. But her main preoccupation outside working hours was the campaign.


Despite her disability, she travelled to pickets all over the country, carrying a placard outside fields in the depths of winter in remote country districts. She might stop for a rest now and then, but she insisted on continuing until the picket dispersed.


Among her friends and fellow campaigners were comedienne Maureen Potter, actor Desmond Perry (of RTE’s 1960s drama series Tolka Row), and actor John Cowley, of RTE’s The Riordans.


She was a gifted organiser, and her ability was tested to the utmost in 1976 when ICABS launched a national anti hare coursing petition.


Hilda devoted enormous energy to the task, coordinating the nationwide initiative. Months passed, and ICABS counted the signatures. These exceeded 100,000, at the time the largest petition in the history of the State.


She always sought to strike an optimistic note, and she predicted that some day, if not in her own lifetime, a courageous government would ban hare coursing.


She did live to see the otter hunting ban in 1990, and, a full twenty years after, the abolition of carted stag hunting.


Special friends Ron, Fran, John, and Bunny miss her, as do her two Mongolian carers Mogi and Gilda, who lived above her house and developed a close friendship with Hilda, enabling her to continue living at home.


I suspect that the warmth of Hilda’s reception on the “Other Side” would have corresponded roughly to the final tally of the 1976 petition:


A hundred thousand welcomes.               



 -John Fitzgerald








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