A dog walker has spoken of her shock and fear at stumbling across a man out hunting with a rifle less than 20 feet from a public track.
Mother-of-two Andrea McDonagh said she was walking along the Royal Canal on the outskirts of Clonsilla in Dublin when she heard two loud gun shots, followed by another three.
She said her two dogs Tyra and Taz “bolted” and she spotted the gunman in a field through a hedge along the path.
“I saw a man lying flat down with a gun on a stand,” said Ms McDonagh, 40, from Blanchardstown.
“He was at the edge of the field, on the other side of the bush, shooting in to the field.
“I got an awful fright to be honest. The gun was huge. It even had a silencer on it.
“This gun could have done serious damage."
An expert said the wooden coloured weapon is a domestic hunting rifle, but with “expensive” extras added on including a silencer or suppressor, a bipod to balance on and a Leupold manufactured riflescope.
The range of the weapon is said to be approximately 400 metres. While that would be less with the suppressor attached, it is also said that a bullet could travel further until impact.
The identity of the man, and if he has a gun licence or owned the land he was firing on, is not known.
Ms McDonagh admits she did not call gardai when the incident happened at 8pm on Friday night as she knew the man was hunting, but she believes the weapon should not be in use to close to the public.
She had walked about 15 minutes along the track from Clonsilla train station towards Dunboyne before she stumbled across the man.
“When I first heard the noise I knew it was a gun and I knew someone was hunting,” she continued.
“My father was a hunter so I kind of know what a hunting gun is like, but this was different. It looked like an army gun. He was less than 20 feet away.
“When I think of people hunting I expect them to be in a designated area or a certain place,” she added.
“I didn’t realise they could just go in to a field near a path.
“There were other people out walking and some were fishing.
“I don’t know why he wasn’t further away.”