Aran island horses may be forced to wear nappies

Proposed new bylaws on animal welfare will apply to entire Galway county

Ponies and traps at Kilronan, Inis Mór, Aran Islands. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Ponies and traps at Kilronan, Inis Mór, Aran Islands. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy


Equine sanitary devices, also known as “horse nappies”, and licences may become mandatory for horse and trap owners on the Aran Islands under proposals by Galway County Council.

The rules would apply to the entire county, but would have specific impact on Inis Mór, where several recent accidents involving horse-drawn traps influenced the decision to regulate.

Horse-drawn hearses and traps used by members of the Travelling community in areas such as Tuam and Ballinasloe, Co Galway, may also be subject to the new bylaws.

Galway County Council’s strategic policy committee on roads and transport has proposed that horse and trap operators will have to be licensed, will have to pay a €50 registration fee and will have to produce a tax clearance certification for same.

Horses will have to wear dung catchers similar to those initiated in Killarney National Park, Co Kerry, in 2004, when pulling carriages on public roads.

There was considerable resistance when the rules were first proposed in Kerry, and four years ago the National Parks and Wildlife Service banned jaunting cars that did not have licences and dung catchers from the national park.

The largest of the Aran islands, Inis Mór, has already experienced new regulations in relation to parking since its new harbour was completed.

All three islands attract up to 60,000 tourists annually, providing an income for at least 20 “jarvies” or pony and trap operators, mainly on Inis Mór and Inis Oírr.

The new rules, if passed by the council, are not expected to come into force until later this year or early next year.