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Brian May pays tribute to ICABS founding member, Dick Power
12 April 2011

Anti-blood sports rock legend, Brian May, has paid tribute to ICABS founding member, Richard (Dick) Power, who sadly passed away last month. "I'd like to pay tribute to this amazing man, whose courage and humanity shines out like a beacon, proving that the countryside does not have to be cruel," the Queen guitarist says in his blog.

Next to a photo of Dick, Brian states:

"I love looking at this man's face, in the picture, and wish so much I had met him. You look into his eyes, as I have looked into the eyes of so many farmers now, and country people, and you wonder how his mind works.

"He could be just another man who was content to carry in just as his forbears did, and his neighbours, and turn a blind eye to things that 'didn't seem quite right'. But he listened to his own feelings about what is right, and what isn't, and had the courage to speak up against what he knew was cruel and unacceptable behaviour.

I hope the Farming newspapers publish an article like this (please click on link to the Irish Times) on Richard Power - if only to alert the good farmers out there to the fact that they CAN have the courage to stand up against tradition. But also to give credit due to this great human being.

"Long may his voice be heard. RIP Richard Power"

ICABS has thanked Brian May for his kind tribute to Dick.

Dick Power
ICABS founding member, Dick Power (1927-2011).

An Appreciation of Dick Power RIP
by Philip Lynch
Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass

My late friend Dick Power of Ballyneety, County Limerick, was a man who abhorred acts of cruelty to animals... and to farmers.

He wrote many an enlightened article in the national and local papers, appealing for legislation to end the tearing apart of defenceless animals in the name of sport.

Being a farmer of ability himself, he was always concerned with the hardship inflicted by the fox hunting trespassers on his fellow farmers, also in the name of sport.

These vandals trampled and broke these protective fences and destroyed the life-giving crops, in addition to terrorising and often cruelly killing livestock.

Dick was an exemplary Christian who strove to love his neighbour as Christ directed him.

He hungered and thirsted for justice, as urged by the Gospel; in his case for farmers who had suffered so much injustice and loss as a result of fox hunting.

Dick was a man of great compassion who appreciated the wonders, multi-faceted landscapes, and the abundant wildlife that forms an essential part of God's wonderful creation.

He was conscious of man's duty to protect all of God's creatures while still using them for man's use and benefit.

He was a hard working farmer who loved to see the shine of health in his well fed from disease and injury. This was his life's calling.

He wished to see as his legacy an end to wanton cruelty to either man or beast.

He failed to see why Drag Hunting could not satisfy the fox hunters and offer them as much fun and recreation.

This alternative, he believed, would demonstrate greater respect for the farmer, his property, his livestock and his the true spirit of Christian tolerance.

May the sod of Ballyneety that he cultivated lie soft upon his earthy frame and may the lord welcome him with these words.

"Well done.

"Thou good and faithful servant...welcome to the place prepared for you."

May he rest in peace.

His admirer and friend,

Philip P Lynch
Farmers Against Foxhunting And Trespass
Callan, Co. Kilkenny

Irish Times Obituary
April 9, 2011

Farmer and campaigner against blood sports

Richard Power: RICHARD POWER, who has died aged 84, was the last surviving founder member of the Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS).

With like-minded people such as comedienne Maureen Potter and actors John Cowley and Desmond Perry, he founded the organisation in 1966, remaining an active member until his death.

In the run-up to last year’s Dáil debate on stag hunting, he reminded campaigners and TDs alike that St Eustace had been an avid stag hunter prior to his conversion to Christianity, after which the future saint renounced both the persecution of Christians and the hunting of stags with hounds.

A story he enjoyed recounting was of how St Patrick rescued a fawn from a deer hunt in the sixth century.

Born in Monaleen, Castletroy, Co Limerick, in 1927, he was the son of Patrick Power and his wife Nora (née Noonan).

Educated locally and by the Jesuits at the Crescent (now Mungret) College, from 1955 he farmed at Boherlode, Ballyneety, Co Limerick.

He attended his first coursing meeting when he was nine. He recalled that he always felt there was something “wrong or inappropriate” about these events, but kept his reservations to himself.

One incident that remained fixed in his mind was hearing a coursing club official advising a dispatcher to turn his back to the crowd while finishing off a dying hare, in order not to give the sport a bad reputation.

His wife was from a hunting background, and he accompanied her to a number of hunt meets in the mid-1950s. One afternoon he observed a hunt in full flight from a vantage point on a hill close to the family farm. He saw the fox run outside the farm boundary, making a speedy U-turn in a bid to elude the pursuing pack of hounds.

But the exhausted creature slowed down and the dogs caught up with it, tearing it to pieces. What disturbed him about the incident was that the particular fox had been released from a sack for the hunt – a “bagman”, in hunting jargon. And he was equally disturbed by the practice of hunt followers smearing the fox’s blood on their faces.

In the 1950s, however, tradition held sway to the extent that few people in Ireland were prepared to speak out against blood sports. And it was a tradition that enjoyed some clerical backing.

An encounter with a “dog-collared” huntsman prompted him to study church history. Subsequently, in magazine articles, and in correspondence with newspapers, he drew attention to early synods and councils of the Christian church that denounced animal cruelty.

He emphasised that while God gave dominion of his creatures to man, man’s dominance over them is not absolute; the integrity of creation had to be respected.

It was his belief that blood sports enthusiasts reject drag hunting as an alternative to hunting live quarry because it fails to “satisfy the desire to punish a fellow creature, the desire to put death in the place of life”.

As a farmer he worked with animals all his life. In his latter years he fed foxes that strayed on to his farm, a practice he happily defended to those who questioned his kindness to an animal often portrayed as a dangerous pest.

And, while mindful of the welfare of lambs and poultry, he argued that foxhunts often posed a greater threat to livestock and farm property than the fox itself.

In retirement he continued to help out with the feeding of livestock and other farm chores, driving a tractor in all seasons even after a quadruple bypass operation.

Deeply religious, he attended the Tridentine Mass at St Patrick’s Church in Limerick every Sunday, and was a devoted member of the Third Order of St Dominic (Lay Dominicans).

Predeceased by his wife Carmel (née Conway) in 2001, he is survived by his sons Martin and Pat and daughters Mary and Cora.

Richard Power: born 1927; died March 22nd, 2011

Death of ICABS founding member, Dick Power
23 March 2011

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports has this week lost one of its most ardent advocates, Dick Power of Boherlode House, Ballyneety, Co. Limerick. Despite his illness, Dick remained active in the campaign up to shortly before his death on March 22. He will be greatly missed by all of us.

Dick was a farmer, who had a great love and respect for wildlife. He abhorred cruelty, thus prompting him along with others to found the Irish Council Against Blood Sports in 1966. For the next 45 years, Dick was a constant in the campaign to outlaw hunting wild animals with dogs, his wonderfully penned letters appearing regularly in the national and local newspapers.

He routinely fed foxes on his farm, and they would be waiting for him to turn up in the evenings for their snack, he often told us.

Dick was a highly intelligent and very well read man, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of things agricultural, nature, history and much more, and we all benefitted from his vast store of information and wise counsel. He had an amazing memory and could detail long past events with great accuracy.

Dick was also a deeply spiritual man with great devotion to his faith, which he truly lived every day. He was also a very caring man, devoted to his loving family.

To his sons, Martin and Pat, daughters Mary and Cora, his grandson, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, extended family, neighbours and friends, we offer our deepest sympathy.

Suaimhneas Siorrí da Anam dílis.

Funeral arrangements

Reposing in Cross' Funeral Home, Ballyneety - Thursday at 5.30pm
Removal from Cross' Funeral Home, Ballyneety - Thursday at 7.30pm
Requiem Mass at Knockea Church - Friday at 12 noon
Burial afterwards in Raheen Cemetery
Contact: Cross' on 061 410744

Please scroll down to see one of Dick's many anti-hunting articles.

Dick Power, RIP
ICABS founding member, Dick Power, who sadly passed away on March 22, 2011.

A Farmer's Views on Foxhunting
by ICABS Director, Dick Power

Why do I, a farmer, oppose foxhunting and blood sports in general? In response to the many queries I received and continue to receive, I write these lines.

Quite a few septuagenarians with whom I used to associate remember my expertise with shotgun and rifle, and they remember meeting me at coursing fixtures, to which I was first introduced as a boy of nine years.

After marrying a hunting lady in the mid-Fifties, I accompanied her to hunt meets and began to take a close interest in that activity and to join her therein. For that reason I was watching the hunt from the hill on our farm on a February afternoon of the late fifties. Very clearly I saw the fox running east, just outside our boundary. To make a long story short, the hunted animal acted strangely, made a U-turn and was killed on the farm adjoining ours. I well recall the yells of one of the hunters as she urged the hounds along. To my ears they sounded like "Hip, hooray!".

Later I discovered that their victim was what in hunting jargon is called a "bagman", a fox released from a sack into covert before the arrival of hounds.

On St. Patrick's Day 1959, as I cut kale for cows, I heard the cry or tongue of hounds as the hunt approached. Having heard that a "bagman" was awaiting release for the great occasion, I left my garden and ran towards the "tally-ho", hoping to save the fleeing quarry which could have saved its life in the earth on my farm, had the creature known of its whereabouts. This fugitive also made a U-turn in a vain bid to shake off the hounds, fleeing as it did so into full view of a hunting priest who had separated from the main body of riders, leading me to think that my luck was in; that I had on my land a man of compassion who would help me in what I sought to do. How unlearned I was on that day of shamrock and harp almost forty years ago!

Mindless sub-humanity

"Look at him!" he roared on sighting the fleeing fox. He then began to howl and caper like a savage "in a state of almost mindless sub-humanity" as a famous philosopher once said, to urge the hounds in pursuit of quarry. At that point I began to "give tongue". Quite a task it was to get him to halt. "Do you know that you are hunting a bagman?", I asked. To my astonishment he replied: "What about it? Sure, 'tis only sport anyway. Aren't they all doing it now?"

What I, a hot-tempered young man in those days said to him, I'll not set down here but I think it is true to say that the "sermon" from the saddle had a profound effect on me, making me study Church history to find out why blood sports had so many "dog-collared luminaries" - as the late Malcolm Muggeridge called them - and how a priest could defend a "sadistic pastime for the privileged" as my late friend and ex-hunt master, Robert Churchward, called it; how a priest could make such unchristian, unpriestly reply.

In his book, "These Animals of Ours", the late Fr Aloysius Roche tells us that all the early Synods and Councils imposed severe penalties on clerics who engaged in blood sports. This is outlined in the chapter headed Pagan Survivals.

Those barbarians in Holy Orders said Mass with their spurs on, their hunting daggers in their belts, their horses saddled and ready outside church. Immediately after Mass, they rode off to hunt. Do blood sports' "dog-collared luminaries" of our time know that they follow a trend set by barbarians - not shepherds but robbers, bent on their own interests? Do they know that the "tradition" to which they have wed themselves has nothing to do with Christianity, except its repudiation?

Dog-collared dalteen

In the late 1930s when two farmer brothers ordered a hunt off their farm, they were bitterly attacked by whom my informant called a "dog-collared dalteen" who was among the hunt riders. That priest was my cousin and my namesake. Indeed, I was threatened with a "telling off" from him circa 1960. May he rest in peace.

Vatican 2 teaches as follows: "People are edified by priests whose portment reflects the sublimity of their vocation...Priests at times take part in amusements which are out of harmony with a profession of Christian virtue. Catholic people expect something better from their priests, even people who themselves may not be very proper in their own conduct. The urgent need of priests is a return to and a revival of the supernatural in their lives."

As the late Dr Jebb used to say, the tally ho teams welcome the clergyman as "an invaluable acquisition".

God gave man dominion of His creatures, did He not? The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that our dominion over the creatures is not absolute; that it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation (paragraph 2415). We are also reminded of the harmony that there was between the first couple and all creation (paragraph 376).

But what of the claim that foxes kill lambs and poultry? They take dead or dying lambs it is true, but very rarely kill healthy lambs from healthy ewes. The best defence of foxes I've read was written by the farmer who won the UK Lambing Competition in 1962. From research over a period of 20 years on his own farm and ten others, involving post mortems on 200 lambs and inspection of mother ewes of missing lambs, he proved that not foxes, but bad shepherding, was the cause of lamb losses. His article was supplied to me by the late Robert Churchward, ex-hunt master turned "anti".

No quarrel

With foxes I have no quarrel. Without hesitation, I'll save hunted foxes from their persecutors - "dog-collared" or otherwise. "Cur me persequeris? (Why do you persecute me?)".

The hunters? Yes, they've given much trouble to me and others. The hunt is a very serious threat to the well-being of livestock and to the farmer's livelihood. The hunt has played a big part in the spread of that dreadful disease, BHU, which has caused very serious losses to farmers, hunts have been blamed for spreading brucellosis, trichinosis, sarcosystosis, etc.

For those who want a good ride on horseback there is the drag hunt in which the trail can be laid so as to keep well away from flocks, herds and slurry-covered fields. Why the reluctance to turn to it? It fails to satisfy the desire to punish a fellow creature, the desire to put death in the place of life.

Find out how to Keep Hunters Off Your Land

"Without hesitation, I'll save hunted foxes from their persecutors." Dick Power (1927-2011)

Foxes not a major cause of lamb losses
06 April 2004

Plastic jackets for lambs have recently been publicised as a form of protection against the elements - and against foxes.

Permit me to clarify that in the list of major causes of lamb mortality, foxes do not feature. A Department of Agriculture survey showed that 90 per cent of deaths are caused by abortion/still-birth, exposure/starvation and infectious disease. Meanwhile, in educational material published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, it is stated that "No matter what people think, foxes seldom kill and eat lambs."

When it comes to exposure to the elements, the plastic jackets have indeed been shown to be effective in saving lambs. In trials in New Zealand (where there are no foxes), 87 per cent of lambs without jackets died in overnight storms compared to just five per cent with the jackets.

Any excuse, however fantastic, is preferred to blaming ourselves for our losses, whether sheep, bovine or equine.

The farmer who won the UK Lambing Competition in 1962 had, in the preceding decade, gone to extraordinary lengths to prove that foxes rarely kill lambs. He wrote: "During our investigations we discovered a strong link between bad shepherding and lamb losses blamed on foxes. The good farmer who fed his ewes well before lambing rarely complained of foxes. Simply because few lambs died."

In truth, foxes are not nearly as great a menace to livestock as the hunt clubs who hunt foxes with hounds. In 2001, for example, some lamb plants reported more liver contamination because of a worm that uses the dog as a host than from liver fluke. We were warned that kennel dogs (i.e. hunt hounds) can be a problem in that respect.

Contamination of pastures by hunt hounds has also caused Sarcocystosis, an incurable brain disease of sheep, to spread widely among flocks.

Liver fluke, the greatest cause of losses on farms, needs the mud snail as intermediate host. Otherwise it dies. Hoof-prints are the favourite habitat of these mud snails and farmers are advised to fence off all areas likely to provide a habitat.

Because foxhunting on horseback is synonymous with hoof-prints and livestock losses, one of the first steps towards keeping herds and flocks healthy should be to ban hunting. This would certainly help to reduce the 200,000 ewes and half a million lambs that die every year around lambing time.

Dick Power
(Farmer and ICABS Director)

Find out how to Keep Hunters Off Your Land

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