In 16th century Ireland, the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains were overrun with wolves and bounty hunters arrived from England, Scotland and Europe and wolf hunting became a profitable holiday adventure. In the mid-17th century, Oliver Cromwell published a declaration in Kilkenny on this date that Irish Wolf Dogs or Irish Wolfhounds were prohibited to be exported and insisted that locals continue to breed sufficient numbers of the mighty hounds to hunt the wolves.
“Forasmuch as we are credibly informed that wolves do much increase and destroy many cattle in several parts of this dominion and that some of the enemy’s party, who have laid down their arms and have liberty to go beyond the seas, and others do attempt to carry away several such great dogges, whereby the breed of them, which are useful for destroying wolves, would if not prevented, speedily suffer decay, these are therefore to prohibit all persons whatsoever from exporting any of the said dogges out of this dominion.”
The last wolf in Ireland is said to have been killed in Kerry in the year 1710. However, there have been other claims as to when and where they were last seen and killed. The Grey Wolf arrived in Ireland at the end of the last Ice Age. It was common in our landscape through the Mesolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Norman periods and at one time the population may have reached 1,000 animals. During Cromwell’s rule bounties for wolves were initiated and so began the final path to extinction. The last wolves disappeared from Ireland in the 18th Century. Wolves continue to exist in most European countries.
With no further purpose in life, the Wolfhounds became increasingly rare.
Image | Kevin Peuhkurinen Photography