Poachers warned off as 72-acre Clare property becomes sanctuary

JJ McCabe on the grounds of Carnelly House ,Co Clare which he hopes to turn into a wildlife sanctuary. Picture: Eamon Ward

A Co Clare millionaire is to transform his spectacular 72-acre property into a wildlife sanctuary and has told poachers to keep out or risk having their weapons taken.

Clarecastle farmer and businessman JJ McCabe, who made €18.8m from the sale of 48 acres of farmland during the height of the property boom, says he has installed video cameras in the trees on the grounds of his Georgian mansion, Carnelly House, and will actively try to catch any hunters who enter the property illegally.

Mr McCabe, who has run as an Independent candidate in six local and national election in Clare, purchased the property, including its nine-bed Georgian mansion, for €660,000 in late 2013.

“I love to see the deer and the other animals around the property,” he said. “I’ve turned the place into a wildlife sanctuary and anyone who enters the place illegally will lose their guns. We have installed cameras in the trees to keep the poachers away.

“There are a lot of guns around at the moment and people are using these high-velocity rifles [for hunting] and the bullets from them can travel up to three miles. They are very dangerous. One of my cows was injured along her back recently and I’m sure that injury came from a stray bullet.”

Poachers warned off as 72-acre Clare property becomes sanctuary

JJ McCabe and his neighbour Joseph Hannon freeing the deer at Carnelly

House last week. Picture: Natasha Barton

Meanwhile, Mr McCabe, and a neighbour rescued a deer who caught its antlers in a swing on the property last week.

“The deer was about two years old,” said Mr McCabe. “There is a rope swing hanging from a 200-year-old tree right in front of Carnelly House and he must have got his antlers entangled in the rope somehow. When I came here in the morning I could see him dancing and jumping around the place.

“I contacted my neighbour, Joseph Hannon, and we managed to get a rope around him to make it safe for us to approach him. When we got close enough, I had a knife in my pocket and I was able to free him from the swing.

“This isn’t the first time that this sort of thing has happened. A few months ago I saw a deer who had electric fence caught in its antlers. He must have tried to get it off with its hooves and become tangled — because he died.”

It is unclear if this designation as a wildlife sanctuary will have any impact on the future development of the property. The property currently has planning permission for the construction of a 64-bedroom, two-storey nursing home as well as 135 adjoining residential units.

Carnelly House itself was built in the 1750s and includes nine bedrooms, an entrance hall, morning room, drawing room, dining room, a library, and six bathrooms.


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