Irish Baron Rewilds Ancient Estate

Randal Plunkett, the 21st Baron of Dunsany, has allowed his hereditary estate in the east of Ireland to return to the wilderness.

After his father, the 20th Baron of Dunsany, passed away 10 years ago, eldest son Randal Plunkett inherited not only one of the oldest peerage titles in the country, but a venerated agricultural legacy.

However, the environmentalist death metal connoisseur who sports a vegan leather jacket, evicted livestock and shunned kept lawns to turn his 750 acres of land into an oasis of wild flora and fauna.

“After attempting a normal agricultural approach, I stepped back and saw a landscape bleak and exhausted from overgrazing and over-farming,” he told “Chemicals injected into the soil and no pause for regeneration or recovery. How does land remain healthy when the cycle of life is ignored?”

The 21st Baron of Dunsany made a radical decision. He removed all grazing animals from the property, gearing towards an overall holistic focus on crops. Pesticides were banned and fertilisers were abandoned.

Steered by a passionate new advocacy for veganism, Randal - who tradition dictates should be addressed as Lord Dunsany - came upon the concept of ‘rewilding’ seven years ago, a progressive approach to conservation allowing the environment to take care of itself and return to a native natural state. Rather than an experimental litmus test in a quiet corner of the property, he sacrificed 750 acres of a highly profitable 1,700-acre pasture in an unorthodox gamble.

"When I started this it was a secret. For the first five years nobody knew what I was doing. In fact, the locals thought I was a moron. They thought I was just decadent, destroying the land for no reason," reports

Dunsany Nature Reserve is now a haven of regenerated native forests, grass fields, springs and streams weaving through marshlands. Since its establishment, Randal says there’s been increased sightings of rare local bird species not recorded in the area for a long time including red kites, pine martens, woodpeckers, otters, barn owls, long-eared owls, herons and sparrowhawk.

Lord Dunsany is not, of course, the only hereditary landowner in the British Isles to take the re-wilding plunge. The 3,500 acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex, after 20 years, has become one of the largest and most prosperous rewilding projects in the country.


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