Sunday 25 February 2018

Raoul: the harbour cat amongst the pigeons

Mary J Dinan goes in search of one of Bray's most famous residents, a cat so cool he has his own Facebook page

Mary J Dinan

IF you have enjoyed a stroll to the Harbour in Bray, now the swan sanctuary, you will most certainly have spotted Raoul, a handsome ginger tom cat parading around the water's edge.

Raoul's a soft sleek ginger street-wise tom with a cheeky look on his alluring, cute face.

In what could be considered a strange environmental relationship, Raoul mixes with the swans, and the two different elements of the food chain live in harmony for the most part.

There are times the swans hiss at him, but this doesn't faze Raoul, he simply lifts up his tail with nose in the air and takes it in his stride.

The much-loved cat resides at the harbour and in the past has been linked to the Harbour Bar as a resident cat. Recently, the pub has changed hands but the cat still remains.

The Harbour Bar had been a family run business, and a part of the O'Toole family for generations until it was sold more recently. It is currently being renovated but still open for business.

I spoke to the current assistant manager Stephen Cranley who filled me in on the cat, telling me his name, and that the cat has a bed at the back of the pub.

The world-famous pub has been one of the most positively reviewed public houses in Ireland and has been cited the overall 'best pub in the world 'by the international Lonely Planet Guide.

It was also was awarded a prize for the 'off the beaten track' category, but the puss isn't impressed by this. Despite the fact that his photos are displayed over the bar, where he has been photographed with various celebrities, including the cast from the RTE Raw drama, he has other ideas and has made it clear that he has no intentions of hanging around one of the coolest venues in Bray. In his opinion it's not even cool enough for cats!

Chasing birds is high on Raoul's agenda and as a keen pigeon fancier (the swans are out of his league, a little too big for him) he has been known to pounce on the pigeons as cats do.

The swans eye him up suspiciously as they seem aware of what he is up to. His days are more frequently spent as the cat among the pigeons.

Raoul also fancies fast cars and the cleaner, the better. Onlookers watched one day as he chose to sit on one shiny vehicle putting his paw prints on the sleek body work. He leaves his mark wherever he chooses to go.

One particular day he stubbornly refused to get off the car, much to the frustration of the owner, but his charm turns even the hardest of hearts. He was gently removed from the car, and then he swiftly took up another perch on another nearby vehicle; a BMW.

It looks like the puss is here to stay although there is one thing that really annoys him - people who take their dogs off the lead and allow their dogs to growl at him and chase him.

Another pet hate is dogs that cock their legs on the vehicle he is sitting on. He's a sociable cat and loves nothing more than to affectionately rub his head on your hand or spindle his body around your legs.

A kind lady passing by expressed her concerns about him as several dogs were on the loose in the harbour area, and she carried him away towards the Harbour Bar but ten minutes later he was back.

Shortly after, he was found charming some German tourists and even posing for photos.

Like most cats Raoul has used up some of his nine lives. He was in a brawl with another tom cat, which made the news headlines in the past, but now he is a reformed character and his heart is firmly in the harbour.

He informs me that he has now got his own Facebook page called: The harbour cat; be kind to cats. Will he set up a Twitter page?

He says he will leave the twitter-ing to the birds.

Bray People

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