Falconry at Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate

This long-standing tradition can be experienced and enjoyed on the lush grounds of Glenlo Abbey Hotels & Estate. Come up close and personal with a variety of birds of prey within our sheltered Walled Garden. While guided by with one of Irelands best Master Falconers. This is a truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with some of nature’s top predators.

Our offering includes both one to one private hawk walks, where guests can enjoy time with several different birds of prey, or we can also provide a display show for larger groups which has proven a great addition to both corporate and private parties.

 

Pre-booking is essential.

To book email reception@glenloabbey.ie or call (091) 519 600

9.30am, 11am, 1pm – Excl. Sundays

€75 per adult   |   €50 per child (UNDER 12) – min 2 people

Group Rate available for larger groups.

History of Falconry

Falconry is the use of a trained bird of prey as a tool for catching food. The art form is thought to have first been used in the Far East but evidence of its use has also been found in ancient cities around the world in places like the Arabian Peninsula, Constantinople and Rome.

A little unknown fact is that the Irish Celts were hugely familiar with the use of birds of prey to catch their food, evidence of which can be found in Irish heritage sites such in Newgrange Co. Meath dating back to 2,000BC. The first written reference to falconry in Ireland was relating to The King of Tara who was said to have two hunting Hawks. Which is why In Ireland falconry is seen as a long-standing historic sport of the nobles or “The Sport of Kings”.

In the Middle ages birds of prey were prised possessions and their ownership was seen as a status symbol. Noblemen hired the original dedicated falconers to care for and tend to their birds. This position of a residential falconer came with great praise and esteem. However, with the growth of gunpowder, this skill has seen a steep decline, it was easier to manage a firearm over a highly intelligent animal.

Today Falconers use their experience and knowledge gained over the past 5,000 years to keep the population of these fascinating birds on the rise. Not only are they adept at breading the animals they also take the time and have a deep understanding on how to nurse injured birds of prey back to full health.

Meet The Team

Meet our Master Falconer

Jason was born in Mayo (We don’t hold it against him). He has spent his whole life appreciating nature which he believes was passed down from his grandfather who from a young age showed him how to live off the land and respect it. As a teenager Jason had more books on wildlife than schoolbooks which grew his fascination will all types of animals in particular large predators. After a few years travelling around the world to places like Australia and New Zealand Jason fell in love with another 5,000-year-old pastime, surfing. This spurred on his love for nature as he witnessed the oceans teeming with wildlife. In Sydney Zoo he fell in love with a Wedge-tailed Sea Eagle. This fascinating bird left a lasting impression as Jason swore on his return to Ireland he would become as Falconer.

On his return to Ireland, Jason found an advert for an apprentice Falconer. He called the number straight away and in a stroke of luck he was picked out of a huge number of entrants. Jason spent two years learning as an apprentice, how to train, nurture and care for a number of different animals and birds. Over the past ten years Jason has worked tirelessly in the Irish Falconry community and is now considered a Master Falconer.

Q & A

How Long Does it take to train a bird of prey?

Like any student every bird is different. Manning is the name given to the process of acclimation of a bird from wild to tame. Some birds like Falcons can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks or other birds like a Harris Hawk can in 8 days to get to a level where I am comfortable to bring them out. To date I have trained over 80 birds and counting. The technique I use is called positive reinforcement through apparent conditioning,

Do you train anything else?

I also train dogs which are bread specifically for Falconry called Hungarian Vizsla’s. They were originally bread by Hungarian aristocracy for Falconry. They are very sensitive, intelligent, and loyal companion.

Have you ever guided anybody famous?

Yes, I have guided quite a few. Anywhere from TV celebrities like Calista Flockhart and Harrison Forde. Royalty, like the members of the Jordanian Royal Family and even the leader of the free whole Mr Biden himself.

What is the best thing you have learned while studying Falconry?

From a young age I have cared deeply about our environment and its sustainability. Being in touch with the animals and birds has given me the opportunity help make sure these wild birds have a future. Most Vets do not have the in-depth knowledge or experience with birds as we Falconers do, nor can they dedicate the time it takes to recover and injured bird. To date I have used Falconry techniques to nurse back countless bird’s and this is by far the most important thing to me.

Meet The Birds

Did you know ?

There are more peregrine falcons in the wild in 2021 than in any other time in history. This is due to the largest reintroduction program of its type in New York State.

 

The fastest racing falcons in the world are bread in Ireland. These are highly sought after all around the world.

 

There are over 1,000 words and phrases in the English language which come from the Art of Falconry, such as:

Under the Thumb – The way the Falconer grips the bird.

Fed – up – When a bird of prey eats too much it does not want to hunt anymore.

Hoodwinked – From the special hood put on the birds.

Haggard – Older birds caught in the wild.

End of my tether – Tethers are used in training.

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