61-year-old farmer saves wild goats causing havoc in small town

Army shot dead last herd of goats on farmer's mountain during foot and mouth

Wild goats are causing trouble in Co Clare
Wild goats are causing trouble in Co Clare

Gordon Deegan

A 61-year old farmer from the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth has come to the rescue of the herd of wild goats that have been roaming free and upsetting locals in residential areas in Ennis.

This follows Clare County Council transporting the wild herd to lands owned by farmer, Sean Finnegan.

The transfer of the goats comes 10 days after an Ennis councillor, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) raised the prospect of the males in the herd having to be castrated “because they are procreating like there is no tomorrow”.

In an interview on Thursday, Mr Finnegan said that the herd of wild goats will be the first herd on goats on the mountain on his lands since the Army shot dead, from a helicopter, the last herd of goats on the mountain during the foot and mouth crisis in 2001.

Mr Finnegan said that his entire 380 strong stock of sheep were also culled during the foot and mouth crisis.

He said: “It was a sad and upsetting time losing the sheep and the goats. We lost everything.”

He said that generations of the herd of wild goats were on the mountain for over one hundred years before 2001.

After receiving the goats on Wednesday evening, Mr Finnegan set them off in the direction of the mountain. He said yesterday: “After watching them, you wold think they knew where they were going. It is great to have goats back on the mountain now.”

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Mr Finnegan said that the goats will do a great job in cutting back on the briars and gorse on the mountain.

The goats arrived at the Cooley peninsula after Mr Finnegan phoned Clare ISPCA officer, Frankie Coote after seeing the goats featuring on the news and telling Mr Coote he could take the goats.

Member of Clare Co Council, Cllr Howard said on Thursday: “It is a fantastic result and a happy ending. We couldn’t have asked for better.”

Mr Coote said: “It took nine of us to round up the 13 goats in the grounds of Mangan’s Cash and Carry in Ennis on Tuesday evening. That is where they were staying at night-time.”

Mr Coote said that he has been ‘besieged with calls from people looking to take the goats. I could have re-homed them in 200 homes with the amount of offers I received. There were calls from across the country."

Cllr Howard said that the goats will ‘thrive’ at their new home. She said: “Two kids were already electrocuted at an ESB sub-station here and a third got knocked down by a car more recently so this is the best possible outcome.”

She said that on Thursday that she couldn’t have stood over the herd being culled as the herd is healthy and full of life.

Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) said that after seeing a video of the goats crossing a busy road in Ennis “something had to be done from an animal welfare point of view. I know some people will be sad that there be no goats in ‘The Rocky’ area outside Ennis anymore, but the herd was getting too big.”

He said: “With the transfer to the Cooley peninsula, it is great that the herd has been kept together.”

Cllr Howard said that it was only a matter of time before the goats and their kids caused a serious car accident in Ennis with them running out on the road and cars swerving to avoid.

Cllr Howard said that the goat population in Co Louth was decimated as a result of culling through the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 and the transfer of the Ennis goats will go someway towards  restoring the population there.

Mr Coote said that he was receiving a lot of complaints from locals in Ennis over the behaviour of the goats.

He said: “They were moving closer to the town centre all the time. They were eating up shrubs while the kid goats were jumping up on cars. One woman put down €100 worth of shrubs but they were gone within a couple of days after the goats got at them. A lot of people were upset by them.”

The goats generated international headlines with one UK paper reporting that the goats were terrorising the town. However, Cllr Howard said that the goats “were not terrorising the town. I found them to be very friendly”.

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