Michael D Higgins has welcomed two new Connemara ponies to the Aras an Uachtarain.
The ponies, owned by Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, will spend four months a year in the grounds of the Aras, as part of a programme of work to enhance biodiversity of the 130-acre site.
President Higgins launched the new partnership today with the first animals to arrive, Gray Lass, affectionately known as “Snowy,” and her foal, “Aimhirgin.”
President Higgins named the foal and chose “Aimhirgin” after Aimhirgin Gluingheal mac Mileadh, the Milesian warrior-poet of Irish mythology believed to have defeated the Tuatha Dé Danann.
This arrangement came into effect after the recent recommendations to develop a conservation management plan for the Presidential grounds.
The Biodiversity Audit, undertaken by scientists at Trinity College Dublin, made a series of recommendations about the future sustainable management of the Aras grounds.
They recommended that a sustainable grazing regime be put in place to allow for an improvement in the biodiversity of the meadows within the Aras grounds.
This will help promote a greater diversity of wildflowers and plants, along with increases in fauna dependent on such a diversity of flora.
80 percent of the 130-acre grounds around the Aras is classified as a “natural habitat,” with 14 distinct habitats.
The audit found 297 different species of plant, 247 species of invertebrates, 188 types of fungus, 51 bird species and 18 different species of mammal, from foxes and badgers to bats and pygmy shrews.
The audit also said that there would be benefits to improving the quality of the semi-natural grasslands.
It recommended that low-intensity grazing by horses and cattle along with measures to reduce the nutrient load in the soil will help create the circumstances for more diverse plant life to take hold.
The President is known for his relationship with animals, especially with his dogs, who have been in the public eye for years and often accompany him at big events.
New Bernese Mountain puppy Misneach arrived earlier this year to keep the President’s other dog Bród company after the death of his former dog Síoda.
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