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Country Matters: Mysterious big cats go a-hunting

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From a high window of an old house in west Dublin the grey hulk of a large animal was visible, recumbent on a path that wound through a garden overgrown with tall grasses, ivy and nameless decorative growths profuse in their wildness.

A badger? In the early dawn light the colour seemed right for a bulky beast, crouched and shapeless. More than 50 years before, one had been noticed slouching by a wall in this place where there had been a field or two, a river and bovines munching about the ruins of an old water mill.

Surely there were no badgers roaming here today? Correct. A slight turning move by the form revealed the raised head of a very large feline. This was truly an enormous cat, yes, grey as a badger, big as a collie dog.