‘I’m sick of calling the vet after dog attacks’: Clare farmer uses Llama to protect his sheep

There has been a mixed reaction to the arrival of a Llama on the canal bank.
There has been a mixed reaction to the arrival of a Llama on the canal bank.

A South-East Clare farmer is using a novel way to protect his sheep grazing on the Ardnacrusha head race canal from being injured or killed.

Tom Gleeson (75) has secured a Llama to police more than 180 ewes and lambs grazing on land near the Ardnacrusha Power Generating Station, which has been leased for the last 15 or 16 years.

Despite ESB signs requesting all dog owners to control their dogs on a lead when they are walking on the canal bank, Mr Gleeson told the Clare Champion that that several owners just let them loose.

In fact, he explains he was forced to take this course of action as last year he lost eight ewes last year and four the previous year.

He says he was sick of calling the vet after his sheep were seriously injured and hurt from dog attacks. 

“People were coming to the canal, they would open the door of their car and let the dog out without a lead.

“I am not stopping anyone from walking the canal bank or walking their dog with a lead. The Llama will not go near any dog on a lead. I tried it with my own dog and he frightened him away when he hadn’t a lead.

“The Llama is not put there to hurt anyone and will not come near anyone if it is left alone. The Llama is bred to protect sheep, it is only a handy animal and is not an elephant,” he said.

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There has been a mixed reaction to the arrival of a Llama on the canal bank. Some people believe it should stay and others say it should go.

“O’Briens Bridge Community Group chairperson, Margaret O’Connor said there has been a mixed reaction to the Llama’s presence,some people say he is very friendly and love him, others feel he is intimidating, full-on, imposing and scary especially to children.

“He is a beautiful animal and because he is attracting such attention, I hope no one would steal or harm him,” she said.

An ESB spokesman said the company is aware of the introduction of a Llama by a tenant on the Ardnacrusha head race canal.

The company is liaising with the tenant to assess whether any risk to public safety is posed by the animal.

“The ESB are monitoring the situation in a proportionate and fair-minded manner, with due regard to the interests of tenants and the concerns of the wider local community,” said an ESB spokesman.

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