Goatherder wanted for Ireland's newest conservation project

Goatherder wanted for Ireland's newest conservation project

The role, which can be found at greenjobs.ie, comes with a salary of €45,000. The herder will manage the goat herd on Howth, move the goats on a daily basis from site to site and look after the breeding program.

Yodelling is not required for Ireland’s newest conservation job, though handling a sheepdog might come in handy.

Fingal County Council, in a groundbreaking conservation grazing project with the Old Irish Goat Society (OIGS), is seeking a goatherder.

The position will be to herd 25 goats over the hills of Howth to keep gorse, heather, and other flammables down.

It will also trial, for the first time in Ireland, the Norwegian “no-fence” system which employs GPS tracking.

The goats will be brought from the national herd of Old Irish Goats, a rare native breed, in Mayo. 

Sean Carolan, of the OIGS, said: “We are looking for someone with herding experience with sheep or goats. The herder will manage the goat herd on Howth, move the goats on a daily basis from site to site and look after the breeding program."

Howth, part of the Dublin Bay Unesco biosphere reserve, has been plagued by wildfires ever since the removal of goats 100 years ago.

The Old Irish Goat is perfectly adapted to the rough conditions of Ireland’s uplands and can provide a natural means of vegetation control. The project is seeking to re-establish their traditional grazing role by reinstating the indigenous breed to the heathlands overlooking Dublin City.

Up until the 1940s, Howth Head was traditionally grazed by livestock and goats in particular. With the decline of traditional grazing, wildfires became more frequent, gorse and bracken expanded and the diversity and quality of the heathland declined.

The goatherd will work closely with Fingal’s biodiversity officer Hans Visser.

“By reinstating grazing with goats, we intend to restore the heathland and reduce the wildfire risk on Howth. We are now looking for an experienced herder to get this project started,” Mr Visser said.

The ability to work outdoors in all seasons and herding the goats with sheepdogs, as well as maintaining paddocks, is part of the job description. Knowledge of Microsoft Office and using cameras is desirable.

The role, which can be found at greenjobs.ie, comes with a salary of €45,000, and is being re-advertised here and in the UK in an effort to find the right candidate.

Meanwhile, the fires which raged through thousands of acres deep in the Killarney National Park and Unesco Biosphere Reserve two weekends ago has robbed herds of old Irish wild goats of their traditional feeding grounds.

The feral goats live deep within and are now being spotted in areas never seen before.

Wildlife rangers say the Killarney goats are of the very old breed, for the most part. The young are born in February and are agile very quickly so they would not have been caught in the fire of the last weekend of April.

However, their feeding grounds have gone and they are now in search of food elsewhere in the park.

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