Help stop illegal cockfighting in Ireland

Despite being illegal in Ireland, the blood sport of cockfighting still takes place in some parts of the country. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports is calling on members of the public to report any information about cockfighting activities to the Gardai. For the phone numbers of Garda stations all over Ireland, please visit: You can also pass on information to the ISPCA National Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515.

Similar to other blood sports like foxhunting and hare coursing (both of which are still legal here), the typical cockfight involves horrendous animal cruelty. Two cocks are thrown into an enclosed pit and encouraged to rip each other apart until one succumbs and dies. This bloody combat is cheered on by spectators, many of whom will be gambling on the outcome.

cockfight victim
Similar to other blood sports like foxhunting, hare coursing and carted deer hunting, the typical cockfight involves horrendous animal cruelty. Cock fights can last up to 25 minutes or as long as the birds can withstand the injuries.

Birds such as the Irish Game Cock and the Large Old English Game Cock are traditionally used since they are particularly territorial and will instinctively chase rivals away.

During the season (Easter Sunday up until the end of July), two forms of cockfighting are carried out - "naked heel" and "spur fighting". In naked heel, the birds' natural spurs are sharpened to maximise the injury they can inflict. Spur fighting, meanwhile, sees three-inch long steel spurs being attached to the sides of their legs. These are designed to cause even greater injuries and result in more savage battles. Cock fights can last up to 25 minutes or as long as the birds can withstand the injuries.


Cockfighting is illegal in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. If you have any information about cockfighting activities, please immediately report it to the Gardai. For the phone numbers of Garda stations, please visit: If you are in Northern Ireland, contact the police at

Videos and Images

Cockfighting - An illegal blood sport

Illegal Irish cock fighting exposed

Video Gallery: Cockfighting
A selection of six video clips showing the cruelty of cockfighting. The footage is taken from a video obtained by the Galway Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Thanks to the GSPCA for allowing us to use the video.

Articles about Cockfighting

Cockfight "spectator" fined
(Article from Animal Watch, Summer 1998)

A Westmeath man who recently appeared at Athy District Court charged with cock fighting offences was fined £200 and ordered to pay £100 in veterinary expenses.

William Dunne of Riverstown, Killucan denied a charge of animal cruelty but admitted to being present as a "spectator" at a cock fight held last year in a field in Grangemageny, Co Carlow. The court heard how Dunne fled when Gardaí arrived on the scene and hid for four hours in a hedge in an attempt to escape detection. He failed to elude patient Gardaí, however, and was intercepted when he came out of hiding to return to his car.

Described by Judge Mary Martin as "something of a sinister nature", the cock fight was discovered by Gardaí at 10.45 a.m. on 6th July, 1997. Giving evidence, Garda Kevin Fahy of Carlow Garda Station said Dunne's Nissan Primera was seen parked near the cock fight venue. Two bags with a cockerel inside each were found at the rear of the car. A total of 12 cocks were seized by Gardaí, one of which was dead and others severely injured. They also discovered a number of steel spurs. Spurs are tied to the legs of each cock, resulting in a fight to the death as the birds rip at each others' flesh.

Dunne was the eighth person to be convicted on charges arising out of the cock fight which was watched by as many as 100 spectators. Also appearing in court on the day was Kildare cock breeder, Hugh Behan, who accompanied Dunne to the cockfight. He too was fined £300.

Emerging from court, Dunne concealed his face with his jumper and shouted at waiting photographers.

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports welcomed the prosecution by Gardaí for such a notoriously difficult crime to detect. We appeal to anyone with information on cockfighting events to contact us in confidence. Cockfighting is a particularly savage blood sport which invariably results in atrocious suffering, injury and death.

Cock fighting breeders exposed
(Article from Animal Watch, Summer 1998)

The sordid underbelly of cockfighting was recently exposed by a News of the World investigation which uncovered a breeding yard in Co Kildare full of cocks living in appalling conditions.

The newspaper's undercover reporter tracked down a breeder of fighting cocks to a spot littered with dead animals. Shot foxes were dumped in a yard next to birds which had been cruelly captured by painting nearby branches with glue - when the birds land, they are firmly trapped and eventually die. Along the edges of the dirty yard were numerous cages, stacked three or more high, where the cocks spend their lives locked up.

In a conversation with the reporter, the cock fighter explained that the 3-4 year old birds are now too old for fighting and that their sole purpose is to produce a next generation of fighting cocks. He crudely outlined that his method of breeding a "good" fighting bird involves mating father with daughter.

Another breeder, meanwhile, was selling cocks from the back of a car. The reporter saw three birds being held in sacks tied with string in the boot of breeder Hughie Behan's car. Remarked sixty six year old Behan, who has since been fined for cockfighting offences: "If you are looking for a fighting cock, this is the one. He is vicious."

Cockfighting is strictly illegal in Ireland. First and second time offenders face a maximum fine of £500 and/or three months in prison. Subsequent offences are punishable by six months in prison. If you have any information about cock fighting activities please contact the Irish Council Against Blood Sports immediately.

Cock fighting in Dundalk

The Irish Times has highlighted concerns over cock-fighting in Dundalk following the discovery of injured birds "in a dreadful condition".

The August 2nd report details how Louth SPCA were called to "two incidents where fighting cocks had been abandoned". Three were found dumped on the Dublin Road near the local hospital while two others were rescued from the Blackrock Road.

"We know cock-fighting goes on in places all over Ireland and that there is big money passing hands," Fiona Squib, an inspector with the Louth SPCA is quoted as saying. "My concern is that cock-fighting is going on around the place or else that the birds are being used to bait dogs. They tease the dogs with the birds because a cock will use its talons to draw down on an animal and draw blood."

Gerry Donaghy of Louth Poultry Fanciers Club said the birds found in Dundalk "were in a dreadful condition".

Cock-fighting is illegal in Ireland. The Irish Council Against Blood Sports calls on members of the public to report any information about cockfighting activities to the Gardai. For the phone numbers of Garda stations all over Ireland, please visit:

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