Massive Destruction of Donegal Wildlife on World Earth Day

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Mullaghderg Mountain after the Wildfires

On Easter Monday, a series of wildfires caused widespread destruction to homes, land and wildlife around The Rosses area of Donegal.

Destruction and Devastation

Sadly, these were not the first of the year. In the previous days and weeks, several wildfires had ravaged local villages, and destroyed one home, damaged many others, and devastated wildlife populations.

On Easter Monday, the destruction continued…

In early afternoon, I watched in horror as flames spread across Deeragh, a hill overlooking my village. They were travelling at an alarming rate due to high temperatures and windy conditions.

Shortly after I captured these photographs from my garden, a private helicopter hired by Donegal County Council doused this side of Deeragh with water.

I and many others breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.

However, our relief was short lived.

Further Fires

News reached me of more fires burning near my mother’s childhood home, and the homes of many of my relatives.

Shocked and feeling helpless, I asked for support and prayers from all my social media friends.

It was late evening before I learned that my relatives and their homes were safe. Sadly, two dear friends lost a holiday home, precious belongings and a host of trees planted lovingly over many years.

Community Spirit

Throughout the morning and afternoon, social media posts had spread word of the crisis, and HUNDREDS of volunteers travelled to support firefighters and other emergency services.

Volunteers carried spades and beaters, and stood in lines to battle the march of the flames, braving low visibility from the massive clouds of smoke.

Miraculously, no one was badly injured despite many close calls.

The Aftermath

It has since been reported that the devastation covers 120 square miles, around the villages of Annagry, Loughanure, Mullaghduff and Kincasslagh.

Under the Wildlife Act 1976 and the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000:

“It is an offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between 1 March and 31 August in any year.”

I question why anyone would ignore this legislation and put so many lives at risk?

World Earth Day

It is ironic that Easter Monday was also World Earth Day –  and the protection of endangered species was the campaign for 2019.

http://www.earthday.org/campaigns/endangered-species/earthday2019/

The Times newspaper of 26 April wrote the following:

“Thousands of endangered birds have been wiped out during a wildfire in gorse land in Co Donegal, a conservation charity has claimed.

Species including the meadow pipit, stonechat and linnet had breeding grounds among the hundreds of acres of gorse.”

You can read the full article HERE

Many other forms of wildlife will have suffered, including badgers, hares, foxes, pheasants, bees…

A SAD and Angry Walk Down Memory Lane

In a recent post A Walk Down Memory Lane I shared with you the beauty surrounding my late mother’s childhood home.

Despite feeling sad and angry, I walked back to bring you photographic evidence of the aftermath.

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Hope for the Future

Three weeks later, discussions and questions continue on:

  • The causes of these recent fires
  • Fire prevention
  • Lessons to be learned for the future…

As I walked amid the devastation, I witnessed some little shoots of green emerging from the blackness:

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96 Comments »

  1. It is so sad. I do hope it wasn’t started deliberately though. Fires were started at a country park where I walked round once earlier this year. The damage done was to the equivalent I think 6 football pitches. It was so sad to see when my friend shown me pictures this park had taken of the damage when appealing for witnesses.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have such admiration for those firefighters, both official and volunteer, and I am glad that no-one was badly hurt … but how tragic for the wildlife and ecosystems. Thanks for ending with those green shoots though.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Geoff. It is very grim indeed. I hope some managed to escape too but the speed of the Easter Monday fires were really frightening. Thankfully, Deeragh and other areas are greening up nicely.

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  3. This is so terrible and difficult for all. There are strict rules here in our part of Spain but when there is a fire it’s usually ‘intencionado ‘ as cause and thus deliberate because of an attempt to clear land. But the spread can be so massive because of dryer conditions than there have ever been before. So sad that this has happened near you and there will be recovery as plant life is resilient but as for others like the birds more difficult. Thoughts are with you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It is the same here. Investigations are I think ongoing. One arrest has been made for the Good Friday fires. The ground was extra dry here this spring as we had a mild winter and little rain. The Easter weather was very warm and windy which added to the speed of the fires. I feel very sad about the wildlife. Awful.

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  4. The weather is actually still too dry here with us – now since 1 year – so I expect more like this in the summer ahead. The drought of last year has led to many wildfires, so really heavy rain would be required now before it gets hot. Greetings from Berlin

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Brigid, it’s so sad to see the bleak desolation of these fires … one cannot understand the minds of those who start them. It just have been a terrrible shock for you all. Luckily no one was hurt (& so glad your home and lovely garden were okay). The community united in fighting them but I feel for your friends and the loss of their holiday home, for the loss of the wildlife and beauty of the landscape. I can only echo your prayer that this will be the last one in the area ever!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Annika. I think we are still a bit dazed and shocked here. We are so thankful for all the volunteers and social media support, as well as the firemen and women… I feel pretty heartbroken about it all especially as I was close to a wildfire in 2003. Four months later my health broke down and my life changed forever…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is so heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing this tragedy with us. I’m hoping your last photo is a tiny glimpse of what lies ahead – new life and another opportunity for humans to choose the right path. ♥

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Gwen. The land is greening up nicely but I fear for the wildlife and for those who inhaled the smoke and the long term effects of shock on everyone’s health. I hope we humans learn from it all.

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  7. Devastating, Brigid to watch this tragedy, it takes very little to start a fire like this. A cigarette butt thrown out of a car would create all of this. The contuation of the fire and its spreading only needs a spark to be carried in the wind, and boom the fields and trees explode especially if they are too dry. Blessings and prayers to all.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. That’s really sad. Of course things will get back to normal, but still when disasters strike it causes a lot of loss, pain and instability which wreaks havoc with life. A prayer for Mother Earth to become her everyday beautiful self.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Oh good grief, how terrible. I am glad people are safe, though possessions mean so much too. Sending love and healing for you all and your friends. I have only ever experienced something similar and that was in Los Angeles in 1993 during the fires there. It was terrifying to see fire leap across a road as we drove along, almost driving into it. To see friends homes destroyed and the canyons too. We have endured race riots, fires, flooding, mudslides and then an earthquake that year but the fires were the worst. I later toured across The States being chased by a tornado – husband was back in LA with another, smaller quake at the same time. We both waited for the plague of locusts. I wish your lovely area a fast recovery and your friends and neighbours too. Reblogging on my blog. and tweeting. xx

    Liked by 3 people

    • Goodness Jane you have certainly had a lot of challenging experiences. The fires hid a nerve with me as I became very ill after wildfires surrounded a former home in 2003. I was unable to work at all for 3 years. Thank you for your good wishes and reblog. xx

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  10. Brigid, I’m so very sorry this horrible devastation occurred to your beautiful Donegal hills. The only truth I can impart is that the earth WILL resuscitate itself and maybe even be healthy for the burn. Not so for the poor, poor animals- heartbreaking.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Isnt nature wonderful? A stunning final image Brigid. So sad that again mankind has caused such devestation but what a wonderful response from the volunteers and those brave dedicated fire fighter’s. So sad but so pleased there were no lives lost but sad that wildlife has lost habitat and life but nature is so wonderful it will return. Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Carol. The poor volunteers had no protective clothing. I take my hat off to all those who helped. It could have been so much worse. Everything is greening up but there have been some places smouldering. Rain much needed. x

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  12. I am so sorry for the loss and damages to an area you care so deeply about. Of course, it’s sad when it happens anywhere, but I am glad your home was spared. The green shoots are such a wonderful sign of hope and life!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I visit family in Australia where they have serious and frequent fires. The dry hot climate and the many eucalypts with their flammable vapours , mean these fires are often ferocious and threaten and sometimes consume homes, wildlife and people. The vast majority of these result from human activity, deliberate or accidental. Fire risk warnings are posted on a daily basis. Bushfires are becoming more common here, so perhaps it is time for clear instructions and warnings to be issued. I was pleased to see that the Gardaí had carried out some arrests. It’s time for our attitudes to change and punish those responsible. I was intrigued to read on a Donegal environmental website that the cause was possibly a piece of glass that captured the sunlight. Do pigs fly in Donegal? It’s nice to see your photos of emerging green shoots, but the wildlife is destroyed and gone. Glad your special places are safe.

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  14. I’ve run out of words to describe events like this. You rightly highlight the impact on wildlife which, so often, is forgotten as people concentrate on the loss of property and, sometimes, even human lives. We’ve had several fires not too far away already this year. I’m always amazed at the proportion of instances of deliberate fire-setting where the culprits are identified and “dealt with”, though there seems to be no shortage of other culprits. But I’m equally amazed at the number of instances which are caused by those who don’t think but who should know better. The carelessly discarded cigarette and suchlike. I hope that those who have suffered losses will get some recompense from insurance and that those who have suffered mental anguish will be healed. Nature, of course, will recover as she always does when we destructive humans get out of the way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you John. Unfortunately, some people here defy the law and continue to burn vegetation as a lazy way of getting rid of unwanted growth! Others as you so rightly say , set fires deliberately. I hope for changes in sentencing and an end to wild fires. I hope you stay safe too. It seems climate change is happening on our doorstep. We have had very little rain here and need more!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. This is so sad Brigid. Too many loss of wildlife. I find it odd to put a LIKE on this post… Thankfully, the era is greening up again. Your post is full of hope and I do wish you get lots of rain -so that your beautiful land flourish again soon. Huge hug.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I’m so sorry to see this, brigid. HAving spent time in Portugal we have witnessed this kind of devastation first-hand. It is tragic and saddening, but the earth is simply amazing in its ability to recover. I hope many more green shoots will keep appearing to give us all hope.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I never even considered that Ireland would have wildfires, it’s something I always associate with California and the western United States. Hopefully, you get good rains and vegetation and wildlife come back.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. So very sad to read this. We’ve also had a recent increase in fires on the moors where we live (unfortunately these seem to have been started deliberately) and it really saddens me. They cause so much devastation to the area and wildlife.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Oh, Brigid, this just breaks my heart…I’m so glad you were able to photograph that precious new growth…at the moment we are experiencing marine cloud mixed with smoke from the wildfires burning one province over (Alberta), we’re praying not to experience the smoky skies of last year, we lost the whole month of August!

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