A rare breed of Irish goat has been given a lifeline after a pair of Old Irish Goats gave birth to a kid goat at the Wild Ireland animal sanctuary in Co Donegal.
The centre, which opened back in October, 2019, is home to many lost species of animals once native to Ireland including wolves, bears, lynx and wild boar.
The sanctuary, which is the dream of Buncrana man Killian McLaughlin, has remained closed for a number of months because of the Covid pandemic.
But the sanctuary, which is located at Burnfoot on the Inishowen Peninsula, is to once again open to the public on April 26th next.
And the newest star of the sanctuary will be the young Old Irish Goat which was born there only last Monday.
A delighted Killian, who is also a qualified solicitor said, “We are so delighted and it comes just before we reopen. Things haven’t been easy but this is a real ray of hope for us.
“So much credit goes to the Old Irish Goat Society for all their help. It’s great to see new life being born in the sanctuary and we can’t wait for the public to see our new arrival now.”
The Old Irish Goat was thought to be extinct in this country until a herd were found in the mountains around Mulranny in Co Mayo.
Since then a group called the Old Irish Goat Society have protected and nurtured the species which now number between 350 and 500.
The society heard Killian was setting up an animal sanctuary for animals once native to Ireland and offered him a pair of their Old Irish Goats which he named Seamus and Oonagh.
Killian said people underestimate goats and that a plaque should be erected to the animals in Dublin.
“People might laugh at me but goats were many people’s salvation in Ireland during the Famine.
“They are amazing creatures and unlike sheep and cows do not need grass and can just live on verges. They provided essential milk, as well as meat, and they are the reason why many people survived in Ireland at this time.”
Both the male and females Old Irish Goat have horns which they once used to fight off wolves in the mountains of Ireland centuries ago.
Killian’s dream of opening his sanctuary was captured in a television series, ‘Return of the Wild’by Moondance Productions, shown on RTE which became a huge hit last year.
However, he admits that the pandemic has pinned him to the edge of his collar once again as the sanctuary was forced to close for much of this period.
As well as welcoming new baby Rigan into their family with wife Katie, Killian had to ensure that all the animals remained in good health behind closed doors.
Despite availing of some Government help for staff wages, Killian has been forced to continue paying the hefty bill for food and care of the animals himself.
“I am not going to moan about it. I took on this project and I will stand over it. I would rather sell my house than have to rehome any of these animals.
“But yes, it has been tough. Like many businesses, we have been forced to close for long periods.
“Hopefully, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we can reopen again and have a long summer with plenty of visitors,” he said.
Name the new kid on the block and win a free family pass!
Would you like to name the new goat and win a free family pass to Wild Ireland when it opens again? Simply log on to Wild Ireland’s Facebook Page at https://m.facebook.com/wildirelandorg/posts/ and name the new goat!