The Irish Hare by Conor Rowlands

Have you ever been out in the Irish countryside, soaking up the view of the fields, hills, woodlands, maybe a bumbling stream in the background, and SUDDENLY your eye catches an Irish Hare! Over there, running across the field, at full speed, it is huge, you can see the white of its tail!

The Irish Hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus) is one of only three species of lagomorphs (species of rabbit and hare in order Lagomorpha) found on the Island of Ireland, it’s our only native lagomorph and it needs protection! Scenes of hares sprinting over fields and hills are going to become something of the past if we don’t do something soon. 

The Irish Hare, also known As Gaeilge as Giorria eireannach, is a large species of rabbit native to Ireland. One of the island’s longest established indigenous species of mammal, our hare is unique and the species is found nowhere else! Hares are larger than the invasive rabbit, they are ‘stockier’, have a white tail, ginger-ish fur in the summer and grey-ey brown in the winter, short ears and have more of an upright stance. You can often see them pausing in the middle of the field on their hind legs watching you! Irish Hares can be found all over the island of Ireland, not just in our hills but fields, woodlands and lowlands too! 

They make cute little noises too! At times Irish Hares can be very vocal, they can produce a faint purring noise, some grunts and snorts and even a screech! (a banshee?). We need to protect these amazing creatures, so that future generations can see these amazing native species sprinting across the land at 70km per hour and then change direction within milliseconds! 

The Irish Hare is protected under the Wildlife Act 1976 (amended 2000), is an Annex V species protected under the EU Directive Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and is listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention. Although, in spite of these protections, hare coursing still goes on in Ireland every year. Hare coursing is a blood sport where people release muzzled greyhounds and dogs upon unsuspecting wild Irish hares. Although these dogs are muzzled, they can still damage the wild animals when pinned to the ground and cause them great stress with reports noting that many of the hares used in such events have later been found dead.   

On the 17th of April 2020, RISE/Solidarity TD Paul Murphy announced over a live video stream that he intends to introduce a new bill to the houses of the Oireachtas which will see a ban on hare coursing in Ireland. As detailed by the Facebook page ‘Ban Bloodsports’; Mr Murphy TD said 

“I’ve been working with the National Animal Rights Association to prepare a bill to ban hare coursing once and for all in Ireland. I’m happy to say that yesterday I sent a draft version of that bill to the office of the parliamentary legal advisor for legal proofing, but we’re quite confident that the bill will achieve what we’re setting out to do which is to ban this cruel practice from Ireland.” 

“This is an issue that people have been campaigning on for many years, [including] the Irish Council Against Blood Sports,” he continued. “The ISPCA recently adopted a position in opposition to hare coursing. Tony Gregory TD was very connected to the issue and Maureen O’Sullivan TD introduced an excellent bill which we’ve taken a lot of, with Maureen’s permission, which was voted on in the Dail in 2016.”

You can find this live video here.

You can do your bit to help by contacting your local TD. We want you to contact all the political parties and TDs and urge them to pledge support for Paul Murphy’s bill to ban hare coursing.

Find names of your local TD and contact details by clicking here.

Please contact the leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the Labour Party to tell them that you want hare coursing and all bloodsports banned!


Leo Varadkar

Leader, Fine Gael

Telephone: 01-619 4020


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Micheál Martin

Leader, Fianna Fail


Phone: 021-432 0088

Leinster House: 01–618 3000

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Mary Lou McDonald TD

Leader, Sinn Fein

Tel: (01) 727 7102





Alan Kelly TD

Leader, Labour Party

Tel: 067 34190





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by Luke Myers on behalf of Cork Nature Network