The Old Irish Goat Society


The Old Irish Goat Society

“Take a guided walk in search of these rare animals on one of the most beautiful short walks on this Island.”


1 Contact: Seán Carolan, Project Leader, Mulranny Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Tel: +353

(0)86 3825345 / Email: /


2 Territory: Based in Mulranny / Nephin Mountain Range, but this is an all-Ireland Project, with ongoing field work in Mayo, Galway, Longford, Waterford and Donegal. Nephin at 806m  is the second highest peak in Connacht (after Mweelrea).


3 Founded: Founded in the Burren in 2007, revived in Mulranny Mayo in 2011.


4 Genesis: The initial establishment came from indiscriminate culling of feral goats in the Burren; the revival was caused by an article carried by the Heritage Council Heritage Outlook Magazine in 2011, which connected the community of Mulranny to the society in the Burren.


5 Vision: To preserve and promote the Old Irish Goat.


6 Key Objectives:- Maintain the national herd of Old Irish Goats in Mayo; Conserve the breed characteristics and 12 distinct colour patterns and; Establish tourism based sustainable social enterprise to support the Old Irish Goat.


7 Structure:  A Project team leader Seán Carolan with a lead researcher (Ray Werner) and Assistant Researcher Maeve Foran. Two Part time goat Keepers one paid and one on Rural Social Scheme.  An overall Project Team comprised 8 volunteers in Mulranny, One in Waterford, One in Galway, One in Longford and One in Kildare. In total 13 volunteers supported the project.


8 Operational Management: All administration for the project was delivered by the Society.


9 Annual Core Budget: 15 – 20K per annum, approximately 1/3 from adhoc annual application basis, made up from several entities including the Dept of Agriculture and Agenda 21. The remainder coming from philanthropic donations and self generation through the likes of the guided walks in search of the Old Irish Goat.


10 Sample Programming: Commissioned the first Livestock Study to use historic samples / collected 60 DNA samples from primitive live feral goats from across Ireland and the UK; First measurement of an Old Irish Goat; Delivered detailed DNA profile of the Old Irish Goat which allows for analysis for sought after traits and; Submission for Rare Breed Status in draft.


11 Some Practical Problems Encountered:  There is no legal protection for Irish Rare Breeds; The current strategy for the protection of rare breeds in Ireland is substandard; There is no strategy or support mechanism to save a breed by re-domestication in Ireland and; One department (Agriculture) with little or no track record in conservation left in charge of the entire Irish Rare Breed family.


12 Some Unresolved Issues: The Old Irish Goat is not yet recognised as a rare breed; A population of 1000 is the minimum ‘safe’ population, it’s currently officially zero. (There are no registered Old Irish Goats in Ireland);

The very limited national conservation funds divide approximately €65,000 per annum amongst 8 sectors, or approx. a pro rata of €8000 for conservation of Irish Rare Breeds.


13 Lessons Learned: No joined up thinking for Rare Breeds in Ireland, compare to the Wildlife; We are trying to save something with no legal protection, no official recognition and that is commercially valueless and;  Our living heritage as in our Irish Rare Breeds is not on the heritage radar; Community groups need access to interns;

While Agenda 21 speaks strongly to the conservation of rare breeds experience has confirmed that nationally this is a very limited fund source; We believe the original FAS Scheme model that put community’s in charge of supervisors and budgets needs to be opened on a case by case basis; Were we attempting to save a wildlife species, we might get LIFE support but it’s not available for Rare Breeds or Agricultural Genetic Resources and; This is a pioneering project, the first attempt to save a breed from a feral state. There are no templates or structures in Ireland to do so.
14 Work Profile: Dedicated research 40%; partner engagement 15%; administration / fund raising 45%; communications 10%.



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