Wolves in Ireland

A natural and cultural history


Kieran Hickey

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ISBN: 978-1-84682-423-4
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ISBN: 978-1-84682-306-0

May 2013. 168pp; colour ills.

'A fascinating overview of the wolf in Ireland through the ages. Hickey redresses the demonization of this iconic animal.' – Ciaran Mc Mahon, Team leader, Dublin zoo

From prehistory to the present day, the wolf has always loomed large in the human imagination. An iconic symbol of the untamed and the wild, the wolf, as Ireland’s last great predator, has always provoked fear, excitement and wonder. In this book, Kieran Hickey examines a vast array of sources relating to wolves in Ireland. The author considers archaeological remains, name evidence (place and person, both in Irish and in English) and folklore. The book also looks at the historical records of wolves in Ireland including wolf attacks on livestock (and more rarely people), and describes how the extermination of wolves took place, with the last wolf being killed, most likely, in 1786. The causes of extermination are discussed in detail, including legislation, the role of bounties and professional wolf hunters and deforestation. The book closes by assessing whether the Irish wolf could have been a unique sub-species and considers the controversial possibility of re-introduction.

Kieran Hickey is a lecturer in the Department of Geography, NUI Galway. He is the author of Deluge: Ireland’s weather disasters, 2009–2010 (Open Air, 2010).