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Thursday 8 December 2016

Exclusive: Dig underway at well-known country estate after pictures of 'mass deer grave' emerge

Cathal McMahon

Published 08/04/2016 | 07:04

Luggala, Co Wicklow

GARDAI and environment officers are set to search parts of a well-known country estate after photos of a mass deer grave emerged online.

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The snaps, allegedly taken at the Luggala estate in Co Wicklow, show dozens of rotting carcasses lying in an open pit.

A spokeswoman for the Waste Management section of Wicklow County Council has confirmed that a "thorough investigation" will now be carried out into the alleged discovery at the beauty spot where parts of TV series 'Vikings' are filmed.

She explained that they received a formal complaint on Tuesday and gardai have also been alerted.

"The allegation is that there are a number of carcasses on the Luggala estate," she said.

"There will be an investigation. An environmental warden will call out to the area."

She added: "This is being taken very seriously.

"The investigation will be thorough."

The spokeswoman was unable to say what the alleged offence was ahead of receiving the environmental officer's report. But she insisted that any investigation would be treated "extremely seriously and quickly".

The images, taken in February by a local man, show dozens of dead deer in a massive pit. A video was also seen by Independent.ie.

It is understood that these have now been handed over to authorities and will form a major part of the investigation.

Earlier today a digger was observed at the scene. Our exclusive footage shows a large JCB removing loads and dumping them into a truck.

Gardai will probe if the deer were culled by licensed hunters.

Located in the Wicklow mountains, 28 miles from Dublin, the demesne has also been used as a location for films such as Zardoz (1974), starring Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling; Excalibur (1981), featuring Nigel Terry and Helen Mirren; The Nephew (1998), directed by Pierce Brosnon; King Arthur (2004), with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley; and Astérix et Obélix (2012), with Gérard Depardieu.

The 5,000-acre estate near Roundwood was a former holiday retreat for Michael Jackson who stayed there for nearly 11 weeks with his children in 2006.

Dozens of other famous names including artist Lucian Freud, poet Seamus Heaney and rockstars Bono and Mick Jagger have all stayed in the estate.

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