The story of a campaigner against blood sports in Ireland.
In Ireland the humble hare has been the subject of great controversy.
After years of an abusive sport, which resulted in its child-like death screams being heard regularly throughout Ireland, a result was achieved.
For those few dedicated people trying desperately to save the gentle creature from the horrors of the cruel sport of hare coursing, the struggle was painful and fought against great odds. The author writes about his experience of a campaign against this barbaric blood sport, focusing mainly on a controversial phase in the 1980s when the State deployed a police heavy gang to suppress anti-coursing activism.
The author's own peaceful and non-violent action and that of, initially, a few others' did arouse the public and achieve what at first appeared to be a hard-won benefit to the hare. But the hare's troubles were -and are -far from over.
Though it can no longer be torn apart by greyhounds, now muzzled, it can still be mauled, injured, and
tossed about like a rag doll on the coursing field.
In addition to highlighting the hare's sad plight, this is also a campaigner's story. The author recounts vividly the ups and downs of his own fight against animal cruelty. He and others paid a major price for their role in the campaign.
Every cause carries a price tag. It makes demands on your time…on your family and social life. It can bring discomfort, enmity, misunderstanding, and social isolation, though these downsides can to some degree be offset by the sense of camaraderie that comes with being part of a group or campaign involving people from all walks of life.
I paid a high price for my campaigning. The loss of my job with a Farmers Co-operative at a time when jobs were scarce in Ireland; followed by arrests, lengthy interrogations, false accusations of guilt, and five tension-racked, emotionally shattering court cases.
All for my efforts on behalf of the humble hare, a creature hailed in Irish legend and folklore, a proud part of my country’s wildlife heritage, but that Irish law permits to be abused in a cruel game of chance called hare coursing…one of the world’s most barbaric blood sports.
Though I have been protesting in one way or another against this shameful activity for almost three decades, the following memoir focuses mainly on a period in the 1980s.
A period when I could hardly close my eyes without being assailed by dark and fearful images. Images and sounds of tall men in suits banging on the front door of my home. A period when I became so familiar with the insides of court buildings that I could sketch them blind-folded.
These were the years of bullying and organised harassment. There was plenty of humour and black comedy too, easing the pain and stigma of the dark times. I hope readers will see the funny side of my experience. As I do…if only with hindsight.
I write this book not to deter others from taking up causes they passionately believe in, but to relate my own experience of what can happen when one’s activism, though peaceful and non-violent, ceases to be just a minor irritant and begins to well and truly rock the establishment boat.
Animal protection is just one of many causes that people may feel drawn to at one time or another in their lives. It is by no means the most important cause on earth, but a legitimate one that any man or woman ought to be entitled to champion to the utmost within the law.
Another cause I cherish is the right of every Irish citizen, and indeed every human being, to his or her civil liberties. That basic right was flouted in the period I deal with in the book, and some of the people who suffered harassment, apart from myself, are still coping with the effects of that experience.
I dedicate this book to my family and to campaigners for justice everywhere.