A pattern of cattle thefts around Skibbereen and Bantry, Co Cork, has left a number of farmers seeking answers.

Five in-calf Friesian heifers and three Angus bullocks were stolen from sheds on an out farm of Patrick O’Donovan between Skibbereen and Ballydehob on the night of Saturday 12 November.

In November 2017, almost to the week and in very similar circumstances, 13 Friesian yearling bullocks were stolen from sheds on an outfarm of Martin Harte, just two miles away from O’Donovan.

The cattle were taken at similar times of the year, from rural, isolated outfarms and under very similar circumstances.

On both occasions, only a few animals were taken from each pen in the sheds and the thieves left behind what were arguably more valuable continental cattle.

O’Donovan’s son and Harte say that as many as five other thefts of this nature have occurred in their locality in recent years and warned that something must be done.


Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, a Bantry guard investigating the matter said: “There would have been [cattle theft] incidences going back the last five or six years.”

The elder O’Donovan noticed he was short a few cattle in each of his pens on the morning of Sunday 13 November and realised the gates had been moved.

Bantry gardaí are investigating the latest cattle theft. \ Donal O' Leary

His son said: “They only took one or two animals from each pen so we wouldn’t notice. It was the Friesian heifers they were after and they probably only had the ID for the five. They must’ve had room left in the trailer and took the few bullocks then as well.”

The stolen cattle will be two years old next spring, with the heifers due to calve from mid-February.

The farmer, whose house is across a few fields from the shed, said: “It was a very quick operation. The biggest impact to me was that we reared those calves to that point.”

‘Had to have cards’

Farming nearby, Martin Harte recalled when he had 13 cattle stolen similarly in November 2017, which were never recovered. The bullocks were worth almost €7,000, he said.

“There were 45 in the pens and they took 13 of them, the best 13 of the 25 Friesians, and left behind Limousin, Angus and Charolais.

"They had to have cards for them and knew exactly what they were doing. Four and five years ago, there were a lot of cattle stolen in the area.”

Bantry Gardaí encouraged farmers to install CCTV on their outfarms. \ Philip Doyle

Harte’s house is a half mile from the sheds where the cattle were taken. “There’s some local information where these houses are. I’d rather see them get caught before they get the next fella,” he said.

Bantry gardaí are investigating the latest theft and are seeking information on (027) 20860.

IFA appeal

West Cork IFA chair Donal O’Donovan has appealed to members of the public to help Gardaí trace the stole Ballydehob cattle.

O’Donovan said the issue was raised at an AGM in the area this week and it’s very distressing for the owner.

“These cattle were in a slatted shed with other animals on an outside farm. The owner, who is elderly, is very upset about the incident and is anxious to have his cattle returned to him,” he said.

He argued that given the number of cattle that were loaded, somebody may have noticed something suspicious in the area between these dates, or indeed some time before, as they planned the raid.

"Investigating officers believe a cattle truck or large trailer must have been used to take the animals away," he said.