Old Irish goats are on their last legs without State aid
Native breeds face extinction without funding to protect genetic and survival issues
The continuing neglect of our native goat breed is costing Irish agriculture niche market opportunities and depriving the environment of natural allies, a leading advocate for the animals has warned.
In the week that the famous Puck Fair gets underway in Killorglin in Kerry, Sean Carolan questions how long our native goat species is likely to survive in our commercially driven agricultural regime.
"We spend millions preserving old buildings and preserving the biodiversity of our countryside, but virtually nothing on the preservation of our native goat breeds or the diminishing number of other rare animal breeds," says Mr Carolan, who manages the Old Irish Goat Society centre in Mulranny, Co Mayo.
"We have to invest more in preserving our indigenous breeds."
The centre, whose operations are partly State-funded, is the go-to place for anyone interested in the past, present and future of the feral old Irish goat.
And that future looks bleak. There are an estimated 350-500 old Irish goats left, mainly in Mayo and Kerry.
The old Irish goat has largely been lost sight of as it is extinct in domestication and survives only as a feral animal that is often camouflaged in herds of mixed and mongrel type.
Known historically as 'the poor man's cow', it was by virtue of its hardiness a crucial component in our farming past.