Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Dublin: 10°C Thursday 11 August 2022

'There's robbed cars, burnt-out cars, dead horses ... the bones of dead horses'

Campaigners say animals at Dunsink in Dublin are being frightened and injured by joyriders and quad bike riders.

VOLUNTEERS WHO TEND stray and neglected horses at a sprawling former landfill site in north Co Dublin say they’ve responded to an increased number of call-outs to tend injured animals, and have called on the local council to address problems caused by joyriding and quad bike scrambling there. 

Fencing put up to address anti-social behaviour at the site in Dunsink is repeatedly being torn down, My Lovely Horse Rescue co-founder Martina Kenny said.

Injured and dead animals are being reported at the site and on adjoining, privately-owned fields, she said – adding that the problem is only going to get worse due to the increasing number of stallions roaming the area.  

“There’s robbed cars, burnt-out cars, dead horses … the bones of dead horses,” Kenny said, going on to describe how a volunteer team had to arrange to put down two severely-injured foals and one mare in recent weeks. 

Last weekend, the charity posted the below video of cars being raced and burnt out at the site, while horses grazed amid the smoke. 


Some of the horses kept at the site are well cared for, and Kenny said the charity regularly worked with owners in the area who are keen to see improvements made and the anti-social behaviour put to an end. 

Eugene Coppinger, a councillor for nearby Swords, said there were around 20 chipped and registered horses at the site and that the establishment of a community horse project several years back had been positive for the area. 

Other owners, Coppinger said, are more difficult to deal with – adding that with the increasing problem posed by stolen cars being raced and destroyed and quad bikes being scrambled, the area was becoming more dangerous for council workers to enter.

Kenny said immediate action needed to be taken in the short-term to tackle the growing number of stallions. Volunteers were constantly finding pregnant mares at the site, she said, making control of breeding an urgent priority. 

“Basically there’s kids and adults going around with stallions and they are breeding constantly – seeing what can they get out of this next mare …  And then if it’s not the right colour or not the right size then that’s another horse or pony just shoved aside and let’s try again. 

We’re constantly finding mares pregnant with last year’s foal and with a foal – so a yearling, a foal afoot and pregnant. That’s just wrong. 

The ongoing issues in Dunsink are symptomatic of the wider urban horse problem across Dublin, said Kenny. 

90 abandoned horses were seized in the Finglas area in the past year at a cost of over €70,000, according to Dublin City Council figures published by the Dublin People last month.

“There’s  a serous horse problem,” Kenny said. “From the airport right into the city it’s five miles and within that five miles there’s those 80 horses and then there’s another couple of hundred elsewhere in that small amount of space.

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

“This is happening all over Ireland, where horses are just too easy to buy, too easy to come by free and breeding like there’s no tomorrow.”

She said there was particular concern among volunteers in her group at this time of year. 

The summer is coming up and kids are already on Facebook and Instagram and whatever looking for a ‘cheap runaround for the summer’ – and that’s actually a horse they’re looking for, a pony so they can jockey it up and down.

Problems at the Dunsink site had intensified in recent years, she said. “Every St Patrick’s Day there’s a huge big rally there with cars and quad bikes rallying around the place.

The council put boulders up and locked off gates, but the day we were up there with the pony with the broken leg we saw some guys knocking down a big fence area so they could get through.

A spokesperson for Fingal County Council said the local authority was working closely with the gardaí “who are actively working on the situation” at the site.

“Fingal are continuing to work on restricting access to the site and impeding anti-social behaviour.”

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel