*Danny O’Brien. 

A KILRUSH MAN has said the impounding of five of his animals was like having his children taken from him.

Danny O’Brien held a protest outside the Town Hall in Kilrush on Monday just as the Annual General Meeting of the West Clare Municipal District was taking place. Signs reading ‘please give me back my horses’ were erected along his trailer while friends and family joined him in solidarity along with a mare.

Five of his horses have been impounded by Clare County Council after they were on lands not in his ownership and lands which he did not have permission to use.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, a spokesperson for Clare County Council explained, “While I cannot give you details in relation to specific individuals, I wish to advise that Clare County Council can impound horses for breach of Section 37 of the Control of Horses Act 1996. The provisions of the Clare County Council Horse Control Bye-laws 2017 apply when horses are impounded”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Danny said, “I love horses, we were born and reared with horses all our life, that was our living”. He continued, “We were brought up as horses, this was a horse town, we had fairs here and you could count hundreds of horses from one street to another”.

Problems emerged for O’Brien when he began to use lands on the approach to the Marina in Kilrush for some of his horses. “I had my own horses at the back of the graveyard, they were down in a field by the Marina which can never be built on, it is a walking time bomb but they let the grass grow, we grazed horses down there since we were children, my father’s mother did and I got stuck one time about six weeks ago, the man that was supplying the hay for my horses, he turned around and said ‘I have none left’ which left me in a small bit of a predicament because I’m an animal lover and I said to myself ‘where am I going to get hay’ but I wasn’t the only one because the weather was so bad but the land was open.

“There was never a sign there until now and all the years since I was a child and from my father’s time there was never a barrier up there, going down the other side there was a gate put there because of marina development but people used the archway for their dogs, I spoke to every person who had a dog there and I asked them ‘please can I put them there’, there was no threat, they were good for the Marina, I spoke to a lot of people that I’d never speak to from Canada, America in campers, that is what they provide down there and I thought as a matter of fact only two days before they took my horses out of the Marina, I got a letter from Marina a bill of €100 until the 6th of July for water, I used to go down to where the campers are every evening and I would fill the drum with fresh water and feed them”.

When this came to light, he was contacted by officials in Clare County Council. “I sent emails and I’m not an email person, I know nothing about Facebook, another person does it for me, I pleaded with her to know why she didn’t notify Ian Lynch about the horses, I spoke to them previously about leasing land at the back of O’Gorman Street and they got back to say they were leasing me no land and that I had horses on Council property, I explained my situation, no one uses the land”. Danny confirmed that he had not received permission for using the land but that he explained his situation to Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) and had been there for five weeks, “the ones they took were to be chipped, I have the book there, I had all that and letters from the vet, I have everything done and sent to the Council”. He said the five animals were only on this plot of land to allow for them to be “chipped and pinned”.

“They have taken five animals off me. A two year old yearling, a thoroughbred horse and two coloured mares, I brought them there because I was stuck for a place for feeding, other than that I would have never gone in there, it is not used as a children’s playground or anything like that, there’s Chinese weed all over it and the man over the old railway cottage told me he got it treated, I had to check with a farm man to see I was doing the things right because I’d be afraid if the horses ate that,” he said.

Three mares remain in Danny’s possession, “they are way back by the island, it is belonging to the Marina, I’ve been there for thirty years. Louis Keating is a good man, I have to say that about him, I get on very well with them”.

On the cost involved in getting the horses back, the Sycamore Driver resident outlined, “They are talking about €900 for each animal, they are talking about an equestrian tag and book which I was going doing anyway, I was at Spancilhill the other day and how many were there without a book and were people questioned going out the gate, I can understand about the book one hundred percent, it is for transparency and if there is an accident or anything like that. On the television we could see two weeks ago what happens to these animals, is this what a heritage town like Kilrush is all about that with the strike of a pen in Ennis they can do this”.

According to the carer, there has been no issues in the past regarding his treatment of horses. “Speak to anybody in this town, I put myself out there which I never do and I don’t want to do because I am a quiet person, I love my animals but what was done to me was wrong, if you wrote me a letter or you had a car in the garage and you were told twice to take it and you don’t but if he gives it away without your permission then you’re paying for a new car, I don’t want their money, if this goes to Court, my solicitor is ready but they have said to try get resolved and there is an issue because you can’t just walk in and take animals out. I don’t know how my animals have been treated since, I’m in the dark”.

Taking the animals off him has hurt Danny. “They are like children to me, if someone took my child I’d be knocking on doors and I will be knocking on doors because I am getting no answers. In Kilkee we saw a year ago when horses went off a cliff at night, what if I caught my animals and I ran them off, hold me responsible for my animals, don’t do it to the animals, they are dumb animals at the end of the day, I am supposed to be the responsible one, I am the animal man so take me to court, fine me or whatever but don’t do it to the horses”.

Describing himself as “a small fish in a big pond,” Danny was unsure if a resolution would be reached. “I’m sixty two years of age this is what I have, I go down to that place and spend an hour with my horses, the summer time is the most beautiful time, I foaled a young mare horse the other day, I felt there was something wrong and the vet was up in fifteen minutes from Labasheeda, they are my people who look after my animals, I’m not a blaggard, I don’t pay them to sell them or to make a buck”.

Criteria must be met in order for the Council to release the horses, a spokesperson for the local authority outlined. “Any horses impounded or seized by Clare County Council are released on submission of the following, confirmation and proof of ownership/ keeper of the horses i.e. horse passport, submission of a letter from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirming that the place where the horses will be kept is an equine registered premises; if the claimant does not own the land where the horses will be kept a valid written rental agreement must be provided. The deeds of the land or the land registry file must also be included. Payment of all pound fees payable in respect of the horses together with all or any other expenses, including fees for keep, veterinary fees and transportation fees incurred by the Council”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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