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Petition to
Charlie McConalogue (Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine)

Why this petition matters

Started by Yasmin Fortune

We need your help to call for the protection of the Old Irish Goats living in the wild, and ban trophy-hunters from killing off this rare and unique part of our heritage. The Old Irish Goat was recently given Rare Breed Status, but this DOES NOT offer protection to the herds living in the wild as you might expect!  It unfortunately only increases their value to trophy hunters who place a higher value on the killing of rare animals!  We need urgent amendment to our Wildlife Laws and we need your help to get there!  We are seeking an immediate moratorium on hunting until such time as the herds can be surveyed & assessed.  We need to act fast!  

The Old Irish Goat now needs protection from hunting to ensure its survival, and awareness needs to be raised of its importance amongst the general public to ensure its future for generations to come. 

Help us preserve this unique part of Irish Heritage

Please Sign & Share - they are counting on us! 

I initially started this petition in December 2021 following on from the excellent reportage by journalist Barry Murphy in the Irish Farmers Journal of the trophy hunting of what I suspected were Old Irish Goats in Wicklow. At the time I was researching the significance of the Old Irish Goat’s presence in my local area in ancient times. Thanks to the Old Irish Goat Society’s website detailing their impressive research and conservation efforts over the past decade I was able to inform myself about this beautiful breed, which I had grown up seeing regularly passing through our family farm, and write the petition calling for both the ban on hunting and the awarding of Irish native, rare breed status by the Department of Agriculture. Thanks to the signatures of over 10000 concerned individuals, coupled with the Trojan work of the Old Irish Goat Society spanning over 10 years, the Department has acted and in June 2022 the Old Irish Goat was awarded Irish Rare Breed Status. 
I have recently updated the petition to ensure that shooting this now officially recognised Irish Native Rare Breed is made illegal. 

Want to learn more about the Old Irish Goat?  
The critically endangered Old Irish Goat has been a continual feature of our landscape for the past 5000 years and is a present day link with our ancient heritage. A beautiful, majestic creature with the males displaying long flowing coats, a long beard and the uniquely bending long horns - they are very much part of our ancient and present heritage. They are only found in remote mountain ranges.

Shockingly, it is currently possible to shoot these beautiful critically endangered creatures for €1000 a head in Wicklow and Kerry! Trophy Hunting Companies bring tourists from overseas to shoot our beautiful Old Irish Goats for a fee on private estates. Some organise hauliers to transport the goats from other areas to the private lands - other goats are herded in from commonage and National Parks by drone. The images of the slaughtered and often beheaded Old Irish Goats on the websites of these Companies are evidence that they are indeed targeting our ancient breed. We have undeniable evidence that they are intentionally targeting the Rare Breed. Trophy Hunting in Wicklow and Kerry currently poses a serious threat to the survival of the breed, with evidence that Trophy-Hunting Tour Operators are being paid considerable amounts to facilitate the shooting of Old Irish Goats by International Tourists. As evidenced in their galleries the Old Irish Pucks are being shot at an unsustainably alarming rate. It will not be long before the ancient feral population is wiped out completely. In death each noble character with its distinctive coat pattern and majestic horns laments irreversible loss of a hugely important symbol of, and connection to, Ireland's ancient heritage.

Sadly the last of the Great Sugar Loaf/ Glen of the Downs/ Bellevue/ Little Sugar Loaf/ Bray Head Old Irish Goat herd was shot around 15 years ago - an iconic photo of an impressive herd balancing on the high cliffs of Bray Head overlooking the sea - their huge horns stretching out into the horizon is, along with the memories, all that is left. Their ancestors are mentioned in the ancient text 'Tógáil Bruidne Da Derga' - referring to a time 3000 years ago - the Three Heroes of Cuala follow a route over Glin Da Gruad (Glen of the Downs) and over Gabhar (the Irish word for Goat) - the placename in the heart of the Royal Site of the Ancient Kingdom of Cuala evidence of the high importance of the goats at that time. 

The rest of Wicklow's population are at high risk of being shot into extinction. The beloved Glendalough and Glendasan herds innocently follow the route of their ancestors over Cullentragh and into Glenmalure where they are at risk of being shot. The remoteness of the Glens of Wicklow and Kerry and other areas has resulted in our beautiful Old Irish Goat being shot without the knowledge or agreement of the People of Ireland. Trophy Hunting is not part of our cultural heritage and is unwelcome amongst the People of Ireland. 

The Old Irish Goat is part of our ancient heritage - a direct connection with our ancient past. Its importance in early Ireland is evident in its mention in our pre-Christian stories - referring to a time thousands of years into our past when they were a part of the everyday life of the Ancient Heroes of Ireland, and in the numerous ancient placenames (Irish gabhar - anglicised to gower) found around the country - often iconic landscapes, once considered sacred, where the feral goats are still found. In more recent history the goats feature in depictions of Irish heritage - such as the painting 'Connemara Goat Girl' and the countless references to the Old Irish Goat in the Duchas Schools Collection  - reflecting the huge role this iconic animal has played in offering food security for the people of Ireland. Beyond this the ancient Irish texts, some of the oldest written texts in Europe, have numerous references to the health benefits of goats milk and cures for various ailments which involve combining certain herbs with the milk of the Old Irish Goat. 

The Old Irish Goat is the quintessential symbol of the heritage of Ireland - it is our living connection with our Bronze-Age ancestors - it inhabits the Hills and Glens they inhabited, it features in the ancient stories, it has provided food security from ancient times right through to saving many lives during the famine, its milk featured heavily in traditional medicine to keep us healthy and well for thousands of years - it is a symbol of harmony in biodiversity and a connection with the most remote places of our beautiful landscape which were held sacred by our ancestors - we owe this majestic breed much and the least we could do is ensure its survival.

The Old Irish Goat Society ( has been doing wonderful work identifying the Old Irish Goat for the past 10 years, and setting the breed standard, producing information leaflets and presentations, and setting up breeding programmes lead by their President Raymond Werner (specialist on the breed with over 60 years of research experience), their vice chairperson Mayo based Sean Carolan and in conjunction with UCD, Trinity, Smurfitt Genetic Institue and Weatherby's DNA. 

This ancient heritage breed was finally granted Irish Native Rare Breed Status by the Department of Agriculture last month (June 2022), as a result of community activism in the form of a decade efforts by the Old Irish Goat Society supported by this independent petition. The breed will only survive outside captivity is if it is illegal to hunt the feral population. The Old Irish Goat now enjoys the same Native Rare Breed status as the Galway sheep, the Droimeann, Dexter and Kerry Cattle and the Connemara Pony, the Kerry Bog Pony and the Irish Draught Horse enjoy - it would be heinous to think of shooting any of these rare animals and the feral populations of the Old Irish Goat must receive protection from hunting.  

As a feral rather than a wild or domestic population, the breed has fallen between the remit of either the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agricultire: this is unacceptable and provision for the NPWS and Coillte to protect the ancient feral herds must be made alongside the provision for the captive-bred domestic population. If this issue is not addressed we will lose a massively important and irreplaceable part of our most ancient heritage. The feral herds which have existed in the wilds of our most remote Glens and Valleys for 5000 years must be protected from being shot into extinction under the watch of this generation. 

Minister for Agriculture thank you for awarding the iconic and ancient Old Irish Goat Irish Native Rare Breed Status. Please ban the hunting of the wild population and protect their future as a matter of urgency, inaction is costing us losses every week in the wild herds that cannot be recovered or replaced!

PLEASE SIGN & SHARE - They are counting on us to speak up & say no!


Yasmin Fortune


18,367 have signed. Let’s get to 25,000!