Kennel shut down over howling hounds

A judge has ordered the closure of hunt kennels in Bandon that housed 36 hounds whose howling kept neighbours awake.

The Carbery Hunt kennels, which have been at the Old Military Barrack Mill for the past 80 years, were ordered to close yesterday despite a number of attempts to quieten the animals with piped music and electronic “bark busters”.

The foxhounds listened to pop music and talk radio shows, including Ray D’Arcy, in a bid to distract them, houndsman John Roche said. Hunt organisers installed a high-pitched electronic dog silencer, the “bark buster”, but it was blown off a wall by the wind and the dogs chewed it up.

Higher-powered devices were installed and “seemed to have an effect”, according to Mr Roche.

“When the hounds would bark it triggered something in their head; they would turn to look at the device and stop barking,” he said.

Residents of the neighbouring Cluid sheltered housing in Millcourt said the measures made no difference and howling continued “most nights”.

Unemployed plasterer John Burke, whose apartment overlooks the kennels, resorted to sleeping in his sitting room in a bid to block out the noise. He took the case against the Carbery Hunt and was backed by a number of residents.

“The odd night, I’d get to sleep but I’m woken most nights by the dogs howling,” Mr Burke told Bandon District Court yesterday. “It’s like a fire brigade the way it goes on. My sleep pattern is all over the place.”

Fellow resident Tom Glover said he was constantly woken between 3am and 6am. “Once one starts, they all howl. It’s very annoying,” he said.

Ray Boland BL, representing Carbery Hunt, asked if Mr Glover ever got used to the noise enough to sleep through it, like bird song at dawn. Mr Glover replied: “The birds are singing, the dogs are howling.”

Representing Mr Burke, Diane Hallahan BL said none of the residents noticed any improvement since the Carbery Hunt introduced measures to keep the noise down in January. She said Mr Burke continued to lose sleep and was disturbed by the dogs on 22 nights during May.

Directing the kennels to close, Judge Aeneas McCarthy said the noise of the dogs could not continue “cheek by jowl” with the residents of Millcourt.

Ordering the closure, he said: “It’s the only way to defeat this nuisance.”

Mr Boland, who estimated the cost of relocating at €70,000, indicated that the hunt was likely to appeal.

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