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BHayes
04-01-2009, 10:34 AM
I get my inspiration to paint sometimes from reading, and on the wildlife theme I drew great creative strength from Bad Hare Days by John Fitzgerald, a book about a wildlife protection campaigner's exploits. The imagery is so vivid. I could see the colours and clearly visualise the wild hares and other species described. I'm not sure if I'm posting this in the right place, but I'd like to share my thoughts on the book

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

Fitzgerald paints a vivid visually stunning 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?

That's the story...but it's the actual descriptions of wildlife that inspired me in my painting.