A question posted to the Fortean Times Message Board prompts a Blather response…
Here’s my response to a question posted on the Fortean Times Message Board
Kangaroos in Ireland
Posted by Vercingetorix on 2nd December 2003
Today I got off work a bit earlier than usual and rather than commuting straight home wandered into the Dublin/Wicklow mountains for an amble.
- Near the Hellfire Wood in the Dublin Mountains, where Kilakee Road and Cruagh Road meet, there’s a viewpoint over Dublin City (that’s a complicated way of describing it, its a popular spot in the summer/at weekends). About 4.15 today, as it was getting dark, I walked from here towards Glencree. I passed a gate leading into a largely cleared area just in front ofconifer forest. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a white flash and first of all thought of a hare. Then I realised the animal seemed too large to be a hare (and definitely MUCH too large to be a rabbit), and was moving kangaroo style. I’ve seen Kangaroos in Australia, and the movement was definitely very similar. However the white flash on the animals rump seemed much bigger than that on the grey kangaroos I remember. The backside of the animal seemed too broad to be a deer. I stopped, and in the failing light the animal stopped too – it was in some bare, short conifers and I couldn’t make out much detail. It didn’t seem to be kangaroo like in appearance, especially since it seemed to be using its fore limbs for support. However when it moved it definitely jumped kangaroo style. I then realised there were two and moved slowly towards them. However they seemed very timid and skipped away even though I was a good bit away. The last I saw was the white rump flash disappear into dense conifers.
- Is there a kangaroo farm in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains? Could it be a fallow deer? Or a hare? (I have a good bit of experience watching wildlife, and neither of the two obvious explanations is entirely satisfying) Or some kind of strange cryptozoological mystical monster?
My answer (17th February 2004)
Vercingetorix, I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but I think you saw two Fallow or Sika deer. I spend a lot of time in those mountains – I’m a mountainbiker as well as a fortean researcher, and I know the Hell-Fire Club Woods, Masseys, Cruagh, etc. like the back of my hand.
We even go mtbing there at night, and have had some startling run-ins with deer in the dark.
You say you were going from the car park at Kilakee towards Glencree? Was the gate on the left or right? I know that after the first couple of bends, there’s a gate to the left that leads up to some farm buildings, and a forestry barrier on the right.
Deer move a lot differently to what you might expect. When in muddy or scrubby ground, they kind of ‘bounce’ along. Also, as it was December, fallow and sika deer were in their dark winter coat, which gives them very dark brown back and rump, with a white flash on the hindquarters.
This photo shows the rump, and the difference between summer and winter coats »
About wallabies – there are actually wallabies living on Lambay Island, off the Dublin coast.
Lambay supports the only colony of Grey Seals on the east coast. Although it is a long established breeding site for this species, it remains relatively small (45-60 individuals) probably because of the restricted area suitable for breeding. Grey Seals are listed on Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive. A herd of Fallow Deer (up to c. 80) roams the higher parts of the island, and a small number of wallabies (c. 10) survive in a feral state. This island may also hold the last Irish population of the Ship Rat, a species listed in the vertebrate Red Data Book.
History of Lambay »
Some articles about the area:
Accidental Satanists »
Irish HellFire Clubs: NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE »
Irish HellFire Clubs: HELL-FIRE AND HARLOTS »
Ghost Hunt 2003: Adventures in the Dublin Mountains »
A Megalith in the Dublin Mountains: Kilmashogue Wedge Tomb »
Kangaroos on Achill Island?