An investigation is under way in Co Clare into a suspected case of animal cruelty.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) said the carcasses of nine horses, three cattle and three calves were found this week at the foot of Baltard Cliffs in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

ISPCA officer Frank Coote said the "evidence suggests" the animals were thrown from the cliff top.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Coote said it was difficult to identify the animals.

He said the horses did not have microchips and that there were no tags on the cattle, as their ears had been cut off.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney said that he is "extremely concerned" at the discovery of the carcasses.

Mr Coveney said: "The matter is now the subject of an urgent investigation involving the department, the gardaí and Clare County Council."

A huge amount of work has been done in recent years in the area of animal welfare, including significant new legislation and regulations around the treatment and ownership of animals, and year-on-year increases in funding, he said.

The vet who attended the scene said it is more likely an environmental and public health issue rather than a case of animal cruelty.

Fergal Hennessy from the Kilkee Veterinary Clinic attended to one emaciated horse found alive on the cliff top.

However, he said it would have been common for dead animals to be disposed of from a cliff and that the site was most likely used as a "dumping ground".

He said the Government and Minister Coveney had taken a particular interest in animal welfare, but said there was more to do.