We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.


Pictures: Homeless man who rescued his rabbit from the Liffey in 2011 now lives on Royal canal with his dogs

John Byrne was photographed living on the Royal Canal with his friend and dogs.

homeless 53_90528145 John Byrne - who has been homeless for 25 years and who was made famous when he saved a rabbit from the River Liffey pictured with his dog next to his new tent on the Royal Canal in Dublin. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

JOHN BYRNE HAS been homeless and living in Dublin for the past 25 years.

He came to national attention in 2011 after he was filmed rescuing his pet rabbit Bernie from the River Liffey after someone had thrown it in.

Seb Dooris / YouTube

The story of the rescue spread to national and international media, and John was honoured with a compassionate citizen award by animal charity Aran.

Back in 2011, John was photographed by RollingNews as he received the award.

90229772_90229772 John Byrne pictured in 2011 with rabbit Bernie as he received that Aran compassion award on O'Connell Bridge. Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

This week – nearly seven years later – RollingNews photographer Sam Boal came across John living in a tent on the Royal Canal in Dublin.

homeless 368_90528156 The Royal Canal where John Byrne has been staying. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

John has just been donated a new tent and provisions by members of the Polish community, and is living on the canal with his friend Darl and four dogs.

homeless 320_90528160 New mats being brought into John's new tent. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Sam took a series of photographs of the two men and their pets. John told Sam that the pair had to contend with giant river rats where they were staying, but that they were grateful for the new tent.

homeless 343_90528150 (From left to right) John Byrne pictured with his friend Daryl in theri new tent on the canal. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Sam said that he was surprised to find John still homeless after all the political and media attention he had received in  2011.

“It was strange seeing him there. I was a bit shocked that he was still homeless. That time with the rabbit was seven years ago,” said Sam.

“He was there with his friend Daryl and I think they had four dogs.

“25 years is a long time to be homeless. And [John] said that except for Daryl all his mates have passed away.”

homeless 325_90528151 (From left to right) Daryl Kiernan who has been homeless for five to six years and John. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

John said that Bernie the rabbit had to be put down. But he still lives with his dogs.

homeless 354 copy_90528147 John and his jack russell terrier on the Royal Canal. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Sam said that as he took shots, John’s dog jumped into his arms, and that all the photographs he took of this were the most natural ones of the shoot.

homeless 351_90528148 Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

“You could tell that when the dog came over to him and just jumped up into his arms. It was just so natural and I started shooting,” said Sam.

homeless 53_90528145 Same Boal / RollingNews Same Boal / RollingNews / RollingNews

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
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.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel