LAST week Channel 4 in the UK screened a documentary on the secretive practice of “Dogging” - whereby strangers meet in known locations to engage in sex acts.
And while there is no doubt the practice still takes place in the Dundalk area, it would appear that people engaged in dogging have left many of the well-known dogging spots behind.
According to internet website Swing4Ireland there were some 53 locations across Dundalk where the controversial activity are thought to take place.
Yet “Doggers” are operating and leaving messages for each other as recently as last week.
Locations such as the M1 crossover bridge at Hill of Rath; Rathescar Lake in Dunleer; the Ardee exit of the M1 (exit 16), and Faughart Graveyard were all noted as locations within the previous 12 months.
One poster writes: “Got cancelled on tomorrow night, so now looking for a girl/girls to have some fun with. Tomorrow night, about ten pm at the lay by beside the M1 crossover bridge on the Hill of Rath.”
Another homosexual man advertised to meet strangers in a local leisure centre, while another described a location in Omeath as “a nice location” and “very gay friendly”.
There would not appear to be any particular clear distinction between gay or straight dogging locations, but at other spots around the country it would appear that sites often start as straight sites, before being taken over by gay doggers.
One local man who spoke to the paper anonymously said that he believed that the phenomena had died down in recent years, mainly following a Prime Time investigation into the practice. “The laneway between the Friary School and the Friary Field was a well known spot, and the area around the Newry Bridge. That area was the butt of a lot of jokes over the years.
“From what I know, it doesn’t go on to same extent it once did.”
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat, sexual health expert Dr Michael Byrne of University College Cork said that felt that it was not a phenomenon that was widespread.
“Neither through my professional career as a GP or anecodotally in my private life have I encountered stories of “dogging”. That’s not to say it isn’t going on though, but it is certainly not something that effects students here in Cork at least.”
While some see it as simply fun between consenting adults, others see the phenomena as a depraved one, which turns local beauty spots into no go areas.
Sites that are used for dogging often become littered with used condoms and paraphenalia associated with the pastime.
According to the tabloids, the pursuit may be more common then previously thought, with a poll by the Irish Sun suggesting that as many as 14 per cent of people, or one in seven, had taken part at some stage in their life.
Louth Sexual Health Clinic (GUM) is open every Friday at Louth County Hospital and can be contacted on 086 8241847 .