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Dublin: 16°C Saturday 25 September 2021

In pictures: When Foot & Mouth had us all on edge ... and those little blue tubs were EVERYWHERE

The country was plunged into crisis-control mode — and the stringent control measures had an impact on virtually everyone in the State.

NOTE: Originally posted on Friday afternoon, following that day’s Supreme Court ruling regarding Foot & Mouth compensation. Reposted today at 12.10pm, in light of the death of former Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh, who’s handling of the crisis won widespread praise. 

REMEMBER THE FOOT and Mouth crisis of 2001?

A series of stringent measures were put in place across the country in spring of that year as the disease – which mainly affects cattle, pigs, sheep and goats – plunged the agricultural industry into crisis mode.

Some farmers lost hundreds of animals as a result of those precautionary measures.

And in a Supreme Court ruling, a farmer from Louth’s Cooley Peninsula won an appeal against the State over the amount of compensation he received when his sheep were slaughtered.

A cull of thousands of animals was ordered in the area, after an outbreak was detected on a  farm on the peninsula in February of 2001, and Brendan Rafferty — who took the compensation action — lost a total of 695 ewes as a result.

Looking back… 

Outside of the farming community, the control measures had an impact on virtually everyone in the state.

Movement of animals was restricted, major sporting and cultural events cancelled, and even the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade put on hold in a bid to ensure the disease didn’t return….

Here’s how the country looked…

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

February: The Gardaí set up checkpoints at every road leading into the North, following outbreaks elsewhere in the UK.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

March: At a farm in Louth, the disease was discovered for the first time in the Republic since the outbreak in Britain the previous month. A precautionary cull of livestock in the area was announced.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Government banned horse and greyhound racing indefinitely, and called on race fans and trainers to stay away from Cheltenham (which was later cancelled). Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh announced a series of control measures —movement of animals was halted, and football games and other sporting events cancelled in a bid to stop people traveling.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Dublin Zoo and Fota Island were closed down as a precautionary measure.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A farmer in Kildare puts disinfectant on hay covering the entrance of his land… Farmers across the country took steps to avert a spread of the disease.


A lone celebrant pushes a trolley down Grafton Street on Saint Patrick’s Day, after the annual Dublin parade’s cancellation.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

April: Culled cattle from a farm in Ardboe in Co Tyrone are lowered into a lorry for incineration, as a new “fortress regime” is put place in Northern Ireland, after a third outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Even politicians couldn’t escape the movement restrictions on animals and citizens. Fine Gael’s Ard Fheis was cancelled, and replaced with a smaller-scale ‘Dublin Conference’.


Across Europe, millions of animals were slaughtered.

On RTÉ News, an elderly farmer summed up the mood of his community.

“There’ll not be a sheep left in the country,” he explained, through tears.

You look forward to this time of year with the lambs playing in the fields, out early in the morning…

Source: RTÉ/Screengrab

The restrictions remained in place for months — and we all became used to the sight of buckets of disinfectant outside schools, offices and other public buildings. On the bright side, our shoes weren’t just clean – they were hygienically clean.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Following the expiry of the incubation period of 30 days from the only case of the disease in the Republic, the EU declared the country free of Foot & Mouth on 19 April.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Dublin Zoo was re-opened, and all restrictions on parks were lifted by 12 May.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Dublin’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade went ahead on 20 May — in warm summer sunshine, for a change.

Read: Sheep farmer wins appeal against State over foot and mouth compensation

Read: Farmers and processors agree to two weeks of talks to try to end the beef crisis

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