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ISS legacy thus far. Whither next ???

Where Memory Lane meets modern ISS and Ireland.

Where would a seal with a toothache go for a dentist?

And in the beginning there was no-one, no service, respite, rescue, rehabilitation or halfway house to care for wildlife with a toothache, broken wing, oiled, orphaned or traumatized by multiple causes, bar the heroic efforts of backyard operators. Heros and heroines like Jim Barry, Angela Tinney, Geraldine Nardone, Marion Fitzgibbon, Willie Duff, Geritt van Gelderen, Dick Warner, Bernie Barrett et al abounded but without support. Wonderful directors, visionaries and friends we buried along road, who continue to inspire us such as Bill Price, Sean Eviston, George McCormack,Frank Mulreany, Pat Walsh, Anne North: Eileen Farrelly and Sheila O’Dowd remembering ISS in their Wills : and more.

And then came Skerries Marinewatch, whence the Irish Seal Sanctuary evolved  fiercely determined to extend ownership and responsibility for wildlife in distress to a collective and wider community, rather than become yet another “wannabee” exotic and eccentric outfit nursing wildlife with little knowledge or support and service diminishing with age. Concentrating on seals, as bridgehead for all, many flocked to the cause to develop and become an enduring and inclusive service for all wildlife in distress.

In accord with the teachings of St. Francis and SAS and mantra “let seal lead you”, the doctrine was: “1st do what was necessary, then what was possible and soon be performing the impossible” –  “adapt, improvise and overcome”. The first task was to address the overwhelming deficit of knowledge and services for wildlife. Many creatures died but more and more survived as we developed knowledge and skills, drawn from seals themselves, good handlers and  all corners of globe. ISS shared this knowledge and facilitated other practitioners and we were facilitating more and more species and wildlife casualties to recovery and release. The 3Rs were born: Rescue, Rehabilitation,  Release.

Wildlife gained profile and opened doors and from that ISS rootstock has now emerged a network of wildlife responders, responsive to any need.

Let’s forget the wars along the way, internecine strife,  false arrests and clearance and look to the record and convergence of effort that will greatly surpass the sum of solo efforts.

See the effort, progression and potential for co-operation:

ISS pioneered Ireland’s first successful wildlife rescue and rehabilitation service for seals and further services across species; trained hundreds of animal handlers, responders and guardians in the process ; developed links with academia, state agencies and wider community.     www.irishsealsanctuary.org

ISS was founder member and driver of Irish Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary and group and live strandings responses, making and learning from classical mistakes, disasters and outcomes. The IWDG is a most sophisticated operation today.


ISS directors went on to found Irish Wildlife Matters Trust (IWMT) and Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland (WRI), a network of wildlife responders spearheading efforts to provide Ireland with a National Wildlife Hospital and centre of excellence for wildlife rehabilitation.

www.irishwildlifematters.ie   www.wri.ie

ISS  took pioneering steps in developing National Wildlife Oil Spill Responses; bringing international oil spill trainers (IBR) to Ireland  www.bird-rescue.org ; bringing Sea Alarm  www.sealarm.org   conference to Ireland, resulting in Balbriggan Statement and UCD/ISS Oil Response website   www.irishsealsanctuary.org/oiled bird response.  ISS directors went on develop as Oiled Wildlife Response Network (OWRN) providing professional training.


ISS trained, financed and built Seal Rescue Ireland and Courtown facilities now providing a frontline service for seals.


Fingal County Council have now asked ISS and other partners to pool efforts as an Environmental Hub, fulfilling  objectives on a Fingal facility. ISS has agreed and now advising authorities how to converge rehabilitation  efforts, upskill and feed information back to research.

The ISS produced the documentary LANUGO celebrating the Worlds 1st Protected species and 100 Years of Wildlife Conservation and Law

The ISS, Dead Seal Database is to fore of data collection and had first wild seal P.M.s performed with UCD.

ISS pioneered Irish Environmental Network involvement in sustainable fisheries and marine conservation and remains to fore in this work, directly advising DAFM and Commission.

ISS continues to advise and respond to emergency calls.

ISS NOW in pursuit of ultimate sanctuary – an island of strategic importance to seals.

If ISS sails appear luffed, it is the fact our understudies have proved so successful and we celebrate that. Indeed mimicry is high praise and ISS humble role is to set bar ever higher, create synergies and further diversify.

ISS is now embarked on programme of outreach, education and research into areas previously neglected and underfunded by officialdom and other NGOs, critical to seal welfare, protection and conservation and promoting sustainability throughout wider seal world. ISS is re-inventing  and welcomes you to that process.

We will bring you news of these programmes as they develop further, invite all to browse our website, enjoy the history, comment and observe and become part of next generation, bigger, braver  and better efforts to protect seals, wildlife and this beautiful planet we call home – a world of wonderful pioneers and individualists and one where  collective efforts and co-operation can realise ever greater progress than sum of parts. By such effort of succeeding generations the course of history and environmental destruction can be reversed. Success relies on honesty and trust and learning from past .

Please read and enjoy our stories and become part of them