Beloved black swan in Limerick village found strangled to death

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

A BLACK swan that fascinated tourists and locals in Castleconnell and Limerick city has been found strangled to death.

A BLACK swan that fascinated tourists and locals in Castleconnell and Limerick city has been found strangled to death.

Its carcass was found with a rope around its neck on the Clonlara side of the river in Doonass days after it returned to the area last week. LSPCA believe the swan may have been hanged.

Black swans are indigenous to Australia so wildlife photographer, Kevin O’Dwyer, christened it Oz when it turned up in Castleconnell two years ago.

Oz proved a big hit with locals and people travelled down from as far away as Galway to see it. It left Castleconnell after Mr O’Dwyer saw youngsters shooting at it with a pellet gun.

After a stopover in Limerick city Oz disappeared until last week when it was seen near O’Brien’s Bridge.

Then on Friday a mother and child walking along the river bank in Doonass saw the dead swan and rang the LSPCA.

Chairperson Geraldine Nardone said the black swan had been strangled.

“A rope was around its neck. It was choked to death. Young fellows must have hung him, what was the purpose, what kind of warped minds would do this?

“Swans get very trusting, they nearly come out of the water to you. It would be easy put a rope over its ahead. They did it for their own sick enjoyment,” said Ms Nardone.

Kevin O’Dwyer was disgusted when he heard the news.

“I go down to Castleconnell as often I can in the off chance Oz would be down there. I heard it had gone to New Quay in Clare and then on to Donegal. A man told me he saw a black swan in O’Brien’s Bridge last week and now it is dead.

“I’m horrified, I love animals. Oz was so used to me that when I tapped my hand in the water it would come over to me.

“I could sit down beside it on the bank and Oz would nearly come up on top of me. I actually have a photograph of Oz in front of me falling a sleep,” said Mr O’Dwyer, who says there are only around 500 in the whole of Europe and very few in Ireland.

“Some people have no humanity, a poor defenceless creature to be hung like that for no reason - that’s disgraceful. If that was done to them, how would they like it? That swan was doing no harm to nobody,” said Mr O’Dwyer, whose thoughts immediately turned to Oz’s mate.

Oz mysteriously turned up with another black swan in Limerick city two years ago and they mate for life.

“Where is the other one is the question, where there is one there has to be the other one,” said Mr O’Dwyer, who is going to try and find the second black swan and get assistance to capture it.

“I’d like it to put in to a wildlife sanctuary. If one is dead they might try and kill the other one,” he said.

Ironically, this is World Animal Awareness Week.