‘I have had a book published that recounts my experience of the anti-hare coursing campaign in Ireland’ …well-known author and long-time activist John Fitzgerald.
Following are some reviews of the book BAD HARE DAYS, one has just appeared on the website of a Canadian Animal Protection group Voice for the Voiceless.
I can be contacted at 056-7725543 or 086-3271179. *Press Release from John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co. Kilkenny.
The story of Ireland’s anti-hare coursing campaign and one man’s battle against cruelty.
Irish author, John Fitzgerald, launches new book on anti-hare coursing
Bad Hare Days recounts the story of the author’s high profile involvement in the Irish anti-hare coursing campaign. Freelance journalist John Fitzgerald, of Callan, County Kilkenny, is renowned for his anti-blood sports opinions and campaigning and in his book which has been published in the UK, (Olympia Publishers) he recalls how witnessing scenes of cruelty in a field where hares were being netted for coursing opened his eyes for the first time to the downside of Ireland’s “field sport” tradition.
He then determined to learn more about the peculiar form of “entertainment” that passed for sport in parts of the Irish countryside. Nauseated by the spectacle of hares being made to run for their lives from hyped up greyhounds, and by the heart-rending cries of the hares as the dogs tore them apart, he joined the campaign against blood sports. He found that hare coursing was high on the list of activities that animal welfare people wanted banned by law. This they sought to achieve by picketing coursing events, letter writing on the subject, and lobbying politicians.
But he found that taking a strong public stand on a deeply emotive and controversial issue almost always carries a price tag. He, like many others who opposed the powerful vested interests and lobby groups that promote and support hare coursing in Ireland, suffered at their hands. He was assaulted at work, subjected to severe bullying and fired from his job with a farmers Co-op for his anti-coursing and anti-hunting views. The book recounts not only his own first hand experience of the campaign, but also focuses on the progress of the campaign itself, the ups and downs…the heartbreak and the occasional successes that come with involvement in any campaigning on difficult or controversial animal protection or ecological issues. He offers a fascinating insight into what happened in the context of Ireland’s anti-hare coursing campaign when radical activists linked to the Animal Liberation Front resorted to sabotaging coursing venues and releasing hares from captivity.
The group or network that originated in Britain in the 1970s arrived in Ireland in the mid 1980s and its involvement in the campaign against blood sports provoked clashes on the picket lines and resulted in the homes of legitimate animal protection campaigners being raided by police, who found it difficult to tell apart peaceful anti-hare coursing activists from the shadowy nocturnal figures who were releasing hares from captivity and illegally sabotaging coursing events.The section of the book dealing with the conflict resulting from the tactics and strategies of the militant activities and their impact on the efforts of peaceful campaigners makes compelling reading and gives the book at times the “feel” of a thriller.The book is written in a gripping novelistic style and some identities and place names are changed for legal reasons.
Bad Hare Days costs 12.99 Euro or £9.99 (pound sterling) . It has 397 pages. It is available from bookshops and from amazon.co.uk, Tesco, or direct from Olympia Publishers (olympiapublishers.com.)
Review of Bad Hare Days by John Fitzgerald, published by Olympia Publishers of London. 12.99 Euro. £9.99.
Demo at taoiseachs office December 2008.
Review by Brogen Hayes (Journalism Student) Phone: 086 8419426 From his teenage years, John Fitzgerald has been a committed campaigner against blood sports. Bad Hare Days is his recollection of life as a campaigner. Fitzgerald paints a vivid picture of what the sport of hare coursing entails: greyhounds chasing hares and viciously mauling them to death. He compares the cries of the dying hares to the sobs of a baby or the wail of the Banshee. The story is explicit, honest and at times disturbing. Fitzgerald shows the analogy between the cruelty he was subjected to at the hands of coursing supporters and the cruelty these same people inflicted on hares.
Bad Hare Days is also an account of a turbulent time in the history of hare coursing in Ireland and the events that brought this cruel sport to national attention. The author details opposition that former President Mary Robinson and Senator Noel Browne encountered when they made their case in favour of banning hare coursing in the Irish Parliament.
Bad Hare Days gives an interesting insight into Ireland in the mid-1980s. Fitzgerald shows how money, power, and establishment figures such as priests and farmers influenced parishioners and people in the surrounding neighbourhoods where the story is based.
Fitzgerald appeared in court on a number of occasions, accused of threatening and harassing hare coursing officials. On each occasion he was found either not guilty or the case collapsed.
For all Fitzgerald’s efforts to raise public awareness of the cruelty of hare coursing there has been little change in legislation governing the sport. Had the 1993 Gregory Bill been passed, it would have banned hare coursing in Ireland. However, this Bill was defeated in the Dáil by 104 votes to 16; so hare coursing continues to be legal, albeit with the dogs muzzled.
The author captures rural Ireland of the 1980s. His use of descriptive language shows the contrast between Ireland then and Ireland of the Celtic Tiger. He does not pull any punches when repeating the verbal abuse that he endured while protesting against the cruelty of blood sports. The quirky nicknames that he uses for those who abused him, based on their own most-used insults, inject a much-needed air of humour into the book.
This book offers an interesting insight into the lengths that people will go to in order to protect their beliefs. Fitzgerald was willing to go to prison for speaking out against a cruel sport. Those who supported hare coursing were willing to allow an innocent man to be persecuted if it meant they could preserve their sport.
Bad Hare Days is a gripping account of what one person endured in order to campaign for what he believed in. The book asks the question, was John Fitzgerald treated any more humanely than the animals he campaigned to protect…against the brutality of hare coursing?
Phone: 086 8419426
From his teenage years, John Fitzgerald has been a committed campaigner against blood sports. Bad Hare Days is his recollection of life as a campaigner.
Fitzgerald paints a vivid picture of what the sport of hare coursing entails: greyhounds chasing hares and viciously mauling them to death. He compares the cries of the dying hares to the sobs of a baby or the wail of the Banshee.
The story is explicit, honest and at times disturbing. Fitzgerald shows the analogy between the cruelty he was subjected to at the hands of coursing supporters and the cruelty these same people inflicted on hares.
BAD HARE DAYS
As a public campaigner against blood sports, I suppose I can’t complain too much that my recently published book Bad Hare Days is generating some controversy, here in Ireland and across the water.Hare coursing is, after all, an inherently controversial subject. But I am still somewhat taken aback by the reaction the book has elicited from some blood sport fans.
Since the publication of the book in London last month, I have received phone calls from defenders of hare coursing threatening all manner of unpleasantness advising what should be done with me and to people like me.I would remind these night owls that there is such a thing as the constitutional right to free speech!
My book was not written to drive coursing fans wild, or to split families and divide communities, as one critic has accused me of doing. I set out simply to recount my own personal high profile involvement in the Irish anti-hare coursing campaign. I joined that campaign thirty years ago after witnessing scenes of cruelty in an autumn field. The spectacle of hares being netted for coursing and savagely ill-treated by grown men and boys, opened my eyes for the first time to the downside of Ireland’s “field sport” tradition. I was then determined to learn more about this peculiar form of “entertainment” that passed for sport in some parts of Ireland.
Nauseated by the spectacle of hares being made to run for their lives from hyped up greyhounds, and by the heart-rending cries of the hares as the dogs tore them apart, I joined the anti-coursing campaign.But as far as simply expressing an opinion on the subject is concerned I certainly wouldn’t attempt to prevent a coursing fan from writing his or her memoirs.Nor would I deny their legal right to promote the field sport ethos or tradition on Christmas cards, whilst at the same time abhorring this depiction of cruelty as a legitimate pastime. So is it too much to ask that they, for their part, might respect the right of an “anti” to tell his story?
Lower Coyne Street,