To The Hounds



Last week.

Staumullen, Co Meath

Photgrapaher Donal Moloney writes:

The last time I witnessed a Fox Hunting scene was on the place mats my Granny used to wheel out to impress the visiting aunts and uncles. This would be accompanied by her best dainty China cups and saucers with matching plates. A variety of small fairy cakes and scones would then be presented on an afternoon tea cake stand. They would then gently position their morsel of choice in the centre of a doily and desperately refrain from wolfing it down in one go.

One could be forgiven for thinking that we may have been in some very posh suburb of Dublin or in a grand country home but all this occurred in Crumlin and I witnessed similar scenes in the three bedroom semi-detached on the Glasnevin/Finglas border where I grew up.

So I had always associated Hunting scenes with gentry and privilege. Over the last week I visited two events to try capture a sense of these occasions and discovered that nothing could be further from the truth.

Farmers, long distance truck drivers, publicans and all sorts meet at a pub in Stamullen, Co Meath. At the back of the pub all one can hear is the hounds in full cry desperate to get some exercise. The trailer opens and they pour out. Horse boxes litter the village and are abandoned until their return. They tack up and head out en masse into a local field not knowing their path for the next 2-3 hours.

I find a local man who’s daughter is part of the hunt and he graciously agrees to take me along and attempt to follow them in his 4×4. He’s very familiar with the local countryside and anticipates their moves around the vast area with a good deal of success.

My first impression is one of frustration as I have no clue how to ride a horse and everyone seems to be having such great fun. For the first time in my life I regret not learning how to ride (despite being a lad from Finglas).

Btw, I didn’t see one dead fox. In fact, I’m told it’s more common for them to return foxless. The Hunt would appear to be much more fun than the kill. Jumping monster ditches and fences is the prize and the priority.


Donal Moloney (Facebook)

87 thoughts on “To The Hounds

  1. Anomanomanom

    Like you said “more often than not”. By that logic we could say “lets all run out in traffic, more often than not you wont get hit”.

  2. Boy M5

    I like the hunt. The countryside needs country pursuits and foxes are vermin so the odd kill here and there is fine in my books as long as it’s quick.

    City folks are a little too used to seeing the fox as a cute exotic night time creature.

    Foxes bite and carry plenty of disease. Not so cute really.

    1. Bob

      “the odd kill here and there is fine in my books as long as it’s quick”

      That’s the problem, chasing a fox down and tearing it apart isn’t really a quick death. If they need to be exterminated, then it should be done properly, not as a pastime.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            I’ve been around hunts and yeah, seems about right for most people there. Also the old but its a drag that just happened to find a fox is a good one they play.

          2. SOQ

            @ Frida.

            I have seen hunts. I have also seen very angry farmers arriving with shotguns and in particular one very distraught man having to be held back from shooting the dogs.

            Now let me ask you a question. Have YOU seen the harm a pack of howling dogs can do to a herd of cattle from even two fields away? Or sheep so frightened that they jump into a river and are swept away? I expect not.

            And will these clowns compensate for their behaviour? Not a chance. “We weren’t even in that field” will be the response while some poor unfortunate has to clean up the carnage.

          3. Charlie

            and then there’s the large majority of farmers who don’t hunt, have cattle and sheep and don’t mind the hunt goin through their land.

          4. SOQ


            The large majority of farmers don’t mind a pack of howling dogs running through their sheep or cattle.

            REALLY? You won’t see too many hunt adverts in the Farmer’s Journal which should tell you all you need to know. The impact on milk yield alone is costly because it runs for weeks afterwards.

          5. Charlie

            SQ..the hunts passes through farmland and there’s no problem them doing so. They also stick to the headland if it’s sewn. They’re hardly going to trespass. Why in the name of God would the hunt people want to advertise in the feckin Farmers Journal?

    2. Vote Rep #1

      Tish once again showing his true colours. The landlord with his leisurely pursuits of ripping a fox apart for fun. Nice.

      1. Neilo

        There’s very little that is leisurely about fox hunting. A number of my friends ride to hounds and it’s a lot of work for meagre reward, bloodlust-wise.

        1. Vote Rep #1

          Maybe Tish and your friend should stick to throwing feral cats on bonfires then. Far easier, 100% bloodlust success rate and you are getting rid of vermin as well.

          1. Neilo

            I haven’t uttered a single word in support of foxhunting. It’s not my bag, baby, but I try to support culchie rights given my origin as a horny-handed son of the ‘soiled’. This support doesn’t extend to barn dances featuring Nathan Carter – unless he is the quarry in an impromptu re-staging of Hard Target.

    3. Daisy Chainsaw

      Sending a dozen people on horseback with twice that many dogs after 1 fox seems wasteful. Ride for sport, let your beagles run for fun, but “hunting” as entertainment even for vermin like foxes who kill livestock is wrong. If foxes need to be put down to stop them killing, do it humanely. You wouldn’t have a dozen horses and dogs chase a lamb or a cow in advance of serving it up for Sunday dinner.

      Don’t dress it up as pest control when it’s just animal cruelty for fun.

    4. Starina

      you want to cull foxes? do it humanely. the hunt is nothing but sadistic pleasure at terrifying an animal whose territory you’re encroaching on. ps i grew up in the countryside, don’t paint us all as cityfolk.

  3. Starina

    ah sure nobody gets hurt, it’s not like they’re terrifying a fox/foxes all day, who may end up dying of exhaustion or stress later. or maybe got a little mauled before getting away. i bet he likes bullfighting, too. scumbag.

  4. Neilo

    How do we know the hunters don’t feast on the fox afterwards? Have you ever seen the damage an under-14 ladies’ Gaelic team can inflict in a Supermac’s? Don’t tell me it’s chicken in those sangwidges, McDonagh!

  5. Kerri Ann

    I knew a girl who broke her ankle on a Stephen’s Day hunt. To save her embarrassment, she pretended she’d got drunk in a nightclub and fallen off a table.

  6. Michael Harkin

    Let’s wreck the fun of these arrogant cretins whenever possible. Legally, if possible. These redneck, knuckle-draggers have no place in 21c Ireland.

  7. munkifisht

    Pathetic little scumbags. It has nothing to do with controlling numbers and everything to do with privileged scrotes satisfying their blood lust for torturing defenseless animals. Utter bunch of creeps. Research has shown hunting has no signifigant impact on fox numbers so why are these disgusting animals allowed to continue with this barbaric practice in a modern Ireland?

    1. dunphied

      I’ve no interest in the Hunt but I do have friends who participate and they’re neither posh, privileged nor scrotes. Lovely photos btw, particularly that last shot.

  8. Tony

    Delighted to see people enjoying the countryside and its traditional pursuits. The notion that we should stop hunting because of some newfound morality is rubbish. People have always hunted, beagles have always helped him, foxes have always been pests and man has always been the master of all he surveys. So let us all be what we are supposed to be.

      1. Neilo

        That anti-bucolic sentiment won’t go down too well with the local colour should you ever move here, Miss Thang!

          1. Tony

            A country snob, the worst kind. The shame of coming from the Irish countryside transmogrified into a copycat English wannabe. I now see why you hate Gaeilge and all things Irish.

          2. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Not Irish, but surely keeping fox hunting, a traditional English pursuit of the landed gentry, is the epitome of copycat wannabe. At spice girl levels of wannabe.

            Plus Gaeilge is awesome though I don’t speak much. I think keeping it alive is very important.

          3. Tony

            We hunted the English too for many years. And way too late for your sucky Gaeilge comments. You made your position clear on that many times. But like I said, you seem to have very bendy principles, so maybe you’ve forgotten.

          1. Tony

            You will be whatever you think your new neighbours want you to be. Bent, like a straw in the wind…

          2. Dόn Pídgéόní

            It’s it my neighbours who are my friends or the circus people? I hope it’s you, Tony, officer with the internet police.

  9. Daisy Chainsaw

    Why just keep it at hunting foxes? Why not hunt and kill stray cats or dogs if it’s about pest control?

    1. Peter Dempsey

      It’s ok to kill somebody if you’re working class. People here and on Rabble will either ignore it or justify it based on “but the perpetrator had a bad upbringing”. It’s only wrong when a middle class person does it.

  10. SOQ

    Most farmers do not want these people anywhere near their land because cows will abort from the fright and pulling dead sheep from barbed wire is no fun. I am sure there is also an negative impact on other wild animals too. My point is that the animal welfare extends way further than some silly excuse about vermin control.

    It should be banned, just like in Britain.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      That’s it exactly. Vermin can be controlled without the bloodlust and the terrorising of nearby flocks and herds.

  11. 15 cents

    its unneccesary. they do bag hunts now, where someone with a scented bag runs ahead out into the countryside and they hunt that .. removing the murder part .. so to say its not because of the thrill of chasing and killing an animal is a lie, a lie that you’d expect from someone pretending to be from Crumlin, saying “one” in their sentences and lying about the hunters being regular working class folk.

    a pathetic, ratty attempt to win people over

    1. Neilo

      A contest to chase scented bags, you say? The Great British Potpourri Hunt coming to BBC One in 2017!

  12. Boy M5

    What’s really ironic is the Padded/Quilted jacket wearing chaps who’ve never sat on a horse never mind owned one who populate Dawson street and D4. They really make me laugh. Country gents living in a two-up two-down in Stepaside. LOL.

    1. SOQ

      See my post above, this is not a rural / urban divide as most farmers are more against hunts than any urban person.

  13. Bacchus

    I do love s thread like this… tell da of who the morons are. Hunt apologists never make sense.
    can we have a thread on travellers now to weed out a few more?

  14. Shannon Omahony

    I’m shocked at all these comments here, people talking about something they know nothing about. The majority of the time hounds find it extremely difficult to get a kill out hunting as they work off their noses and unless the scent is extremely fresh usually the fox is miles ahead of them by time they pick up the sent or the fox has gone to ground. Yes foxes get do get killed by hounds and it is very fast! it is no less humane then shooting – most foxes shot are shot from a good distance away and get hundreds of tiny lead pellets fly through their body and in some cases it is not a direct kill and merely maimes the fox and they die a slow death. Hounds nature is to hunt as a sheepdogs nature is to herd sheep. They are a pack of hounds hunting as wild hounds would hunt which leads to darwin’s theory of evolution and survival of the fittest.

    As for farmers not supporting hunting. Most people in our hunt club are not rich or posh they are farmers from the locality. I agree some farmers may not agree but on the overall most farmers support fox-hunting. – Most cases of farmers threatening people to get off their land is when the hunt has entered a field they have not received permission to cross – not because the farmer is ant-hunting but usually they don’t want 100+ horses trampling their land. in this case hunts should ensure that someone from the area is present to ensure this does not happen. & as for hounds damaging livestock. number one as most of our hunt consists of farmers we take extreme care when passing by or crossing land where livestock is present as we do not want to cause the farmer any trouble which is why affiliated hunt clubs pay 1000’s of euro worth of insurance to protect the farmer if the hunt damage his yard, land or livestock.

    Besides all the points listed above I don’t think people realise the amount of industry a hunt club generates employs & pays – Vets, Farriers, Builders for stables, horse walkers, gallops, sand arenas. transport companies, jeep & truck sales, trailer sales, fencing equipment, tack shops, dentists, chiropractors, sales of rider equipment, sales of horse equipment, horse sales both in ireland and internationally, dog licences, affiliation costs, the breeding and AI & passports with horse sport ireland. & until people go out and learn about hunting by actually taking part you will never understand what in involves or why us ‘Hunters’ do it.

    Well done, your photos are fantastic and capture hunting & the hounds perfectly!
    Best Regards –

    1. SOQ

      Most farmers object to a pack of howling dogs in the vicinity, not just on their own land and also, it is impossible to prove that cows aborted days later let alone why sheep took flight.

      And while we are on the subject, notification by post or through letter box is unacceptable. For various reasons people may not receive it. At the very least there should be a signed contract.

      Feel like Biddy from Glenroe now.

  15. Scundered

    Can’t help wishing the photographer was shooting a gun instead, and put those sub humans out of their misery.

    Great photos though bit too much clarity slider for my taste. It just ages skin tones.

  16. Peter Dempsey

    You do realise that it’s the vicious hounds that rip the foxes to pieces? Not the people riding the horses.

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