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Like our neighbours in England, Scotland and Wales, Ireland is a nation of animal lovers – just take a trip down to Dublin Zoo for a prime example of how much we enjoy spending time with our furry (or not-so-furry) friends. Of course the majority of us love dogs and cats, but what about the animals that call this fine country their home? In this article we’ll take a closer look at some of Ireland’s most beloved animals, from the Irish Setter to the Kerry Bog Pony. The Stag Our national animal, the stag (or red deer) is a favourite for many Irish people and an excellent representative of our beautiful island. The Lapwing A beautiful creature that many consider to be the national bird of Ireland, the Lapwing is named after its wavering flight and is one of the most distinctive birds in the country. Unfortunately this familiar black and white farmland bird has seen a significant decline in numbers and is now listed by the RSPB as a Red List species. Irish Setter This gorgeous and distinctive dog is a familiar site in Ireland and easily one of our favourite animals. Interestingly enough the Irish Setter wasn’t always a solid red dog – early breed records refer to setters that either red or white, as both colours were easy for hunters to spot in the field. By the late 19th Century however, the white setters had died out in favour of the distinctive red setters we’re so familiar with. Galway Sheep Ireland simply wouldn’t be the same without flocks of these animals grazing the fields of western Ireland – something they’ve been doing as far back as the 17th Century. They’re friendly, easy going and quite often fairly amusing, not to mention a staple of Irish culture. Glen of Imaal Terrier This absolutely gorgeous and incredibly playful dog originates from Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains, and is one of the most recognisable and distinctively Irish canines that call our fine country home. Connemara Pony This beautiful animal is Ireland’s most recognisable equine exports and the largest of all the pony breeds, standing up to 14.2 hands high. Connemara Ponies are good natured, friendly and are known to be athletic animals that are great for riding. Irish Water Spaniel The Irish Water Spaniel is an incredibly distinctive hunting dog that is easy to spot by their red curls covering most of their body. The dog has an oily coat that keeps the skin under its curls dry, allowing it to spend plenty of time in the water without getting wet. Quite apart from the useful benefits of its coat, it makes this much-loved Irish animal incredibly cute and instantly recognisable. Kerry Bog Pony The second pony in our list, the Kerry Bog Pony is named after its origins in the bogs of County Kerry in southwest Ireland. A relatively small pony (10 to 12 hands high), this beautiful and elegant creature is known for its unique gait and classic looks – a true Irish favourite. What do you think of our list of Ireland’s favourite animals? Did we miss one of the animals you love? Let us know in the comments below!