Just recommending a really excellent book on animal rights/protection theme...Bad Hare Days by John Fitzgerald (Olympia Publishers). It's the memoir of an Irish animal protection activist. As well as making a powerful case for animal protection and a ban on bloodsports, the book tells in a compelling, highly readable style the story of his own lifelong battle to end "sporting" cruelty to wildlife in Ireland. Because the author doesn't have the resources to mount a big publicity/ promotional effort like the mainstream authors, a few of fellow activists here in Ireland are trying as best we can to "spread the word" about this book...so we'd appreciate if you mention here and there!

From his teenage years, John Fitzgerald has been a committed campaigner against blood sports. Bad Hare Days is his recollection of life as a campaigner.

Fitzgerald paints a vivid picture of what the sport of hare coursing entails: greyhounds chasing hares and viciously mauling them to death. He compares the cries of the dying hares to the sobs of a baby or the wail of the Banshee.

The story is explicit, honest and at times disturbing. Fitzgerald shows the analogy between the cruelty he was subjected to at the hands of coursing supporters and the cruelty these same people inflicted on hares.

Bad Hare Days is also an account of a turbulent time in the history of hare coursing in Ireland and the events that brought this cruel sport to national attention. The author details opposition that former President Mary Robinson and Senator Noel Browne encountered when they made their case in favour of banning hare coursing in the Irish Parliament.

Bad Hare Days gives an interesting insight into Ireland in the mid-1980s. Fitzgerald shows how money, power, and establishment figures such as priests and farmers influenced parishioners and people in the surrounding neighbourhoods where the story is based. Fitzgerald appeared in court on a number of occasions, accused of threatening and harassing hare coursing officials. On each occasion he was found either not guilty or the case collapsed.

For all Fitzgerald’s efforts to raise public awareness of the cruelty of hare coursing there has been little change in legislation governing the sport. Had the 1993 Gregory Bill been passed, it would have banned hare coursing in Ireland. However, this Bill was defeated in the Dáil by 104 votes to 16; so hare coursing continues to be legal, albeit with the dogs muzzled.

The author captures rural Ireland of the 1980s. His use of descriptive language shows the contrast between Ireland then and Ireland of the Celtic Tiger. He does not pull any punches when repeating the verbal abuse that he endured while protesting against the cruelty of blood sports. The quirky nicknames that he uses for those who abused him, based on their own most-used insults, inject a much-needed air of humour into the book.

This book offers an interesting insight into the lengths that people will go to in order to protect their beliefs. Fitzgerald was willing to go to prison for speaking out against a cruel sport. Those who supported hare coursing were willing to allow an innocent man to be persecuted if it meant they could preserve their sport.

Bad Hare Days is a gripping account of what one person endured in order to campaign for what he believed in. The book asks the question, was John Fitzgerald treated any more humanely than the animals he campaigned to protect…against the brutality of hare coursing? Well worth a read, I promise!


January 9th 2009

Lower Coyne Street,
Callan,
Co. Kilkenny,
Ireland.

Phone: 00 353 56 7725543

Email: jfitzg3@eircom.net

Re. Bad Hare Days

Dear Friends,

I am writing to thank you for helping to draw the public’s attention to my recently published book Bad Hare Days, which as I mentioned in my letter to you is the story of my personal experience of campaigning on a difficult and highly controversial issue: live hare coursing in Ireland.

Thanks in large part to your group and others kindly giving the book a "plug", I am happy to inform you that Bad Hare Days has now made its way into the most popular top five of Olympia Publisher’s books.

Since I contacted you about the book, an interesting review by a Dublin, Ireland-based journalism student has appeared on the publisher’s website (www.olympiapublishers.com) I reproduce this review below to demonstrate perhaps that your support for the ethos behind this particular book has not been misplaced.

Again, sincere thanks for whatever backing you have accorded my efforts to get this book to as wide a readership as possible. I should mention that my reason for contacting animal protection groups with a view to "spreading the word" about the book was that I simply lack the resources of those celebrity authors who have massive marketing budgets to promote their work.

Wishing you all the best for 2009.

Sincerely,

John Fitzgerald

Review of John Fitzgerald’s Bad Hare Days

by Brogen Hayes (Journalism Student)

From his teenage years, John Fitzgerald has been a committed campaigner against blood sports. Bad Hare Days is his recollection of life as a campaigner.

Fitzgerald paints a vivid picture of what the sport of hare coursing entails: greyhounds chasing hares and viciously mauling them to death. He compares the cries of the dying hares to the sobs of a baby or the wail of the Banshee.

The story is explicit, honest and at times disturbing. Fitzgerald shows the analogy between the cruelty he was subjected to at the hands of coursing supporters and the cruelty these same people inflicted on hares.

Bad Hare Days is also an account of a turbulent time in the history of hare coursing in Ireland and the events that brought this cruel sport to national attention. The author details opposition that former President Mary Robinson and Senator Noel Browne encountered when they made their case in favour of banning hare coursing in the Irish Parliament.

Bad Hare Days gives an interesting insight into Ireland in the mid-1980s. Fitzgerald shows how money, power, and establishment figures such as priests and farmers influenced parishioners and people in the surrounding neighbourhoods where the story is based.

Fitzgerald appeared in court on a number of occasions, accused of threatening and harassing hare coursing officials. On each occasion he was found either not guilty or the case collapsed.

For all Fitzgerald’s efforts to raise public awareness of the cruelty of hare coursing there has been little change in legislation governing the sport. Had the 1993 Gregory Bill been passed, it would have banned hare coursing in Ireland. However, this Bill was defeated in the Dáil by 104 votes to 16; so hare coursing continues to be legal, albeit with the dogs muzzled.

The author captures rural Ireland of the 1980s. His use of descriptive language shows the contrast between Ireland then and Ireland of the Celtic Tiger. He does not pull any punches when repeating the verbal abuse that he endured while protesting against the cruelty of blood sports. The quirky nicknames that he uses for those who abused him, based on their own most-used insults, inject a much-needed air of humour into the book.

This book offers an interesting insight into the lengths that people will go to in order to protect their beliefs. Fitzgerald was willing to go to prison for speaking out against a cruel sport. Those who supported hare coursing were willing to allow an innocent man to be persecuted if it meant they could preserve their sport.

Bad Hare Days is a gripping account of what one person endured in order to campaign for what he believed in. The book asks the question, was John Fitzgerald treated any more humanely than the animals he campaigned to protect…against the brutality of hare coursing?

Brogen Hayes

Contacts details:

brogen@eircom.net

Phone: 086 8419426

End of review


Bad Hare Days

New book on anti-hare coursing

Kilkenny Advertiser, November 20, 2008.

Bad Hare Days is The Kilkenny Advertiser’s ‘Old Kilkenny’ columnist’s newest literary offering recounting a story of the author’s high profile involvement in the Irish anti-hare coursing campaign.

John is renowned for his anti-blood sports opinions and in his book which has been published in the UK, he recalls how witnessing scenes of cruelty in a field where hares were being netted for coursing opened his eyes for the first time to the downside of Ireland’s field sport tradition.

He joined the campaign against blood sports, with coursing high on the list of activities that animal welfare people wanted banned by law. This they sought to achieve by picketing coursing events, letter writing on the subject, and lobbying politicians.

But he found that taking a strong public stand on a deeply emotive and controversial issue almost always carries a price tag.

Much of the book focuses on what happened when radical activists linked to the so-called Animal Liberation Front resorted to sabotaging coursing venues and releasing hares from captivity.

John insists he had no connection with the militant elements but that, despite this, he was tried five times in the 1980s for alleged intimidation of coursing club members and officials and landowners who permitted hare coursing on their fields.

There were two mistrials, another trial ended with a hung jury, a fourth resulted in a unanimous Not Guilty verdict, and a fifth case was withdrawn in the District Court before being sent for trial.

Between September 1986 and March 1990 he was arrested eleven times, mainly under the anti-terrorist Offences Against the State Act (Section 30) and questioned about alleged ALF actions directed hare coursing. He describes these interview sessions in detail.

The book is written in a novelistic style and all names of legal personnel and some place names are changed for legal reasons.

Bad Hare Days costs €12.99 and is available from Kilkenny bookshops or from amazon.co.uk.