In Navan, in the north-east of Ireland, the Tara Na Ri pub has closed its doors since March 2020 and the lockdown. Today, it no longer serves beers and welcomes a new kind of clientele: goats, swans, foxes… The place has become the first veterinary clinic for wildlife in the country.
Since the establishment of the first confinement in March 2020, the Irish pub Tara Na Ri has closed its doors and has not poured a drop of alcohol. But it has built up a new clientele of regulars based on swans and foxes, becoming the very first veterinary clinic for wildlife in the country.
Behind the blinds of this pub in Navan (north-eastern Ireland), the draft machines are silent and the main room is deserted.
But the adjoining rooms are home to overwhelming activity: here we bottle up a two-week-old wild goat, named Liam. There, swans set up their nests in old stables, a fearful fox creates an enclosure and a volunteer takes care of a hawk with big eyes.
Since Friday, the old beverage flow has been reconverted, thanks to the association Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland (WRI), ‘Irish Wildlife Rehabilitation’, becoming the country’s very first veterinary clinic to care for creatures of all sizes and species, whatever their problem.
“We were used to a certain way of life, said James McCarthy, whose family has owned the pub for more than ten years. When it was taken from us, we ended up with a void. It takes a while to fill it up, in a way you never thought possible before. “
“We are preparing for the orphan season, which is our busiest time of the year, explains animal manager Dan Donoher, trying to calm a fidgeting pigeon on an examination table. We will have lots of young birds and fox cubs, which will keep us busy for the next six months. “
In Irish culture, pubs occupy a central place in social life, where important events are celebrated and solidarity between neighbors is created.
In remote rural areas, their role is all the more important. The closure of the Tara Na Ri had dealt a severe blow to the local community, already shaken by the radical changes induced by the confinement.
But according to Aoife McPartlin, head of the educational arm of WRI, the brand new veterinary clinic has already replaced the pub in the hearts of some customers, who have volunteered their time to repair the adjoining rooms.
“We welcomed them, they welcomed us”, she said of the residents, who spared no effort or time to renovate the premises.
Nature and containment
Ireland, which has more than 4,000 deaths from Covid-19, is currently in the middle of a third lockdown, established to stop the explosion of cases that occurred after local restrictions were eased before Christmas.
While the country went through the first two waves of the pandemic with relatively few cases and deaths, it now has the highest per capita contamination rate in the world.
It is because of this « tsunami d’infections », as Prime Minister Micheal Martin described it, that 45% of deaths in the Republic due to the coronavirus have been since early 2021.
Since the start of the year, schools, non-essential stores, pubs, restaurants, gymnasiums and cinemas have therefore been closed and citizens asked to stay at home, except to exercise in a restricted area.
A situation in which Aoife McPartlin sees at least one advantage: With the dramatic increase in the number of people spending time in the wild, the number of injured or abandoned animals found by walkers and then brought back for treatment has skyrocketed.
“Nature saved a lot of people during the pandemic, she emphasizes. They are more aware of wildlife and its existence, and of our coexistence. “
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