By Helen Riddell
THE owners of Beara riding school Lios Lara had a lucky escape last Thursday when a gorse fire came within metres of a paddock where horses from the school had been grazing.
Owner Annie O’Neill said she became aware of a gorse fire in Finaha, just outside Castletownbere, where the riding school is located, about 10pm last Thursday and made her way there to check on her horses.
‘I met the local fire brigade on the way, and while the fire wasn’t near the horses at that stage, there was a good bit of smoke, and the horses were getting frantic so we made the decision to move them and brought them down nearer to our house,’ Annie said.
With the ground being so dry at the moment , Annie said fires will just take off.
‘The hill was still smouldering the morning after, and re-ignited again in one patch,’ Annie said.
‘Lighting gorse fires at the current time is not only dangerous but an added pressure for the emergency services,’ she said.
Annie went back to check on the stables in the early hours of the morning, but by daylight while the flames were out, the area was still smouldering, and she realised how close it had come to Lios Lara.
‘All our boundary fencing stakes are charred and when we looked at our conservatory in the morning it was covered in ash.’
Lios Lara has been in Beara for the past 10 years, and although the stables are currently closed, Annie is working out how best to start operations again once the lockdown restrictions are lifted.
‘Coming into the summer months with the tourist season we’re always busy, but when we can open again I’m looking at just doing private one-on-one lessons to start, so we can maintain social distancing and we’ll take it from there,’ said the riding school owner.