Special Saturday View and Artist Talk: Saturday 13 October, 2 – 4pm.
The wolves are back but you won’t find them at the usual watering holes… they can be found in Margo Banks’ exhibition ‘Wild at Heart’ at Origin Gallery.
According to Kieran Hickey’s article ‘Wolf – Forgotten Irish Hunter’ wolves in Ireland were once an integral part of the Irish countryside and culture but are now extinct… “The last wild wolf in Ireland is said to have been killed in 1786, three hundred years after they were believed to have been wiped out in England and a century after their disappearance in Scotland.The grey wolf was reasonably common throughout Ireland until the 1700s. Up until then, Irish people lived in uneasy harmony with the wolf, which was hunted mainly by the upper classes. The advent of British rule changed the situation for Irish wolves, who the English lords saw as a troublesome species and targeted for extermination. The last wolf in Ireland was killed in 1786 in Ballydarton, Co. Carlow by a farmer called John Watson, whose sheep were getting eaten.”
There are recent reports of government considering bringing back the wolves again to Ireland as part of an effort to control the expanding deer population.
Margo ‘imagines’ the bear sitting majestically in and around her mother’s field in Teeromoyle resting in the shadow of theTeeromoyle Mountain, (Sliabh Thír Ó mBaoil) in South West Kerry. Her mother’s house is long gone but the field where the house was remains unchanged and ‘I have painted this field many times’… says Margo.
The brown bear was in Ireland when our hunter-gatherer forebears arrived 9,000 years ago. It became extinct four to six millennia later. The brown bears in Ireland were highly unlikely to have survived the last ice age. It is predicted that extinction occurred very quickly during the last glaciation with the likelihood that the bears died out sometime between 150 – 1500 years during the last ice age period.
A study of the DNA of ancient brown bear bones in Ireland proved that the maternal ancestors of modern polar bears were Irish. Conditions in Ireland at the end of the last ice age resembled those of Alaska today. Polar bears may have been stranded here and brown bears could have mated with them, accounting for the presence of their DNA sequences in some polar bears today. Our Irish bears were, in fact, brown-polar hybrids.