CAPE Clear islanders have taken to Facebook to pay tribute to the late Mary Cotter who became famous for her caring of cats.
‘Many of you knew Mary Cotter from the Glen,’ said one islander. ‘She carried her home in her heart, always had a story to tell, and was a kind, no-nonsense character ... Mary is gone now and with her a piece of this island.’
Another person said: ‘Life won’t be the same without her here. She enriched so many people’s lives, and made an impact on us all.’
She said Mary’s presence on the island – after a 40 year sojourn in England – meant people were ‘all the better for knowing her.’ She said she had ‘a big heart, great compassion, was always authentic.’
Mary Cotter passed away last week, but two years ago she made newspaper headlines and became famous at the age of 77 for her mission to control the cat colonies on Cape Clear.
Maire na gCait — or Mary of the Cats as she was known – had returned to the family farmhouse on the island and was busy ministering to the needs of 25 feral cats.
She told reporter Louise Roseingrave that the island’s cat population acted like a mirror for what was happening on the mainland, where Ireland’s feral cat population has reached crisis levels.
Mary said she was spurred into action after finding dead kittens strewn around her garden and went online to research feral cat care.
She found Community Cats Network (CCN), a fledgling group of Cork-based volunteers championing an internationally promoted policy of humane and effective feral cat population control known as Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR).
As Louise Roseingrave reported: ‘In September 2013, CCN volunteers, working with vets charging the cost of materials only, trapped and spayed 20 of Mary’s cats, using an outhouse as a makeshift surgery.
‘In October, they returned to collect and neuter the remaining kittens too young to spay the first time round.’ And they returned one more time to neuter the remaining colonies, proving that kindness comes in all forms.