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Foxhunters stay off bishop's land

foxhunt stays off bishop's land

17th December, 2000

A full year after the Irish Council Against Blood Sports made a written plea to Galway bishop, Rev John Kirby, we were happy to learn that the Galway Blazers foxhunt did not enter the bishop’s land in December to terrorise wild animals.

In our appeal to the Rev Kirby, the Bishop of Clonfert, we asked for him to make his 70 acres of lakeside land a haven for foxes and all wild creatures. We drew his attention to paragraph 2418 of the Catechism which states that “it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly.”

Although it remains unclear whether the hunt decided themselves not to enter the land or whether the bishop instructed them to stay away, we hope that it was Bishop Kirby who took the initiative and made a positive move for wildlife.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports hopes that this is the beginning of a trend which would see other Catholic clergymen turning away from supporting animal cruelty - including those priests who see fit to bless foxhunts. In November 2000, for example, a priest blessed the hounds of the Kilmoganny hunt in Co. Kilkenny. A number of other priests have engaged in this perverse ceremony in recent years.

We also appeal to those priests engaged in, or supporting, live hare coursing to finally turn away from the practice. We would like to see the Catholic Church in general promoting caring, kindness and respect for vulnerable creatures.

Bishop ignores ICABS appeal

In December 1999, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports wrote a letter of appeal to Bishop Kirby. We urged him to tell the Galway Blazers that they are no longer welcome on his land. Bishop Kirby totally ignored our letter - over one year later, we have yet to receive a reply of any kind from the bishop

Below are extracts from our letter dated December 17th, 1999.

Dear Bishop Kirby,

We are appealing to you, in the interests of prevention of cruelty to animals, to request the Galway Blazers hunt not to enter your lands. You may be aware of the controversy surrounding this hunt when a long standing follower of theirs came forward this year and exposed their cruelty.

Your refusal to allow the hunt to enter your lands would send a clear signal to the hunt and society at large that this is an extremely cruel and unnecessary activity involving the taking out of a pack of hounds to terrify, abuse and kill a wild animal for “sport” and “entertainment”. I understand that the new Catholic Catechism states (par. 2418):”It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly." This holds particularly true of hunting wild animals with dogs for “sport”.

Statement by Bishop John Kirby

In a statement dated January - April 2000, Bishop Kirby stated the following:

"It is true that I did not forbid the hunt from crossing the land. The Galway Blazers have hunted this ground for 40 years or more and I have no great views on fox hunting one way or the other provided guidelines are followed. In allowing the Galway Blazers to continue with the hunt some twelve years ago, I specifically forbade any attempt to ‘dig out’ the fox if he got to ground."

"There is a den on the land and the fox is usually safe once he makes it to this point."

Urgent Action

We need your help to persuade the bishop to stop cruelty on Church lands.

Join our important campaign by writing a letter of appeal to the bishop. Ask that he make his land off limits to the Galway Blazers.

If you have already written to Bishop Kirby following our appeal in Animal Watch, please write a follow-up letter now. Thank you.

Write to:
Rev Bishop John Kirby
Bishop of Clonfert
Co Galway


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