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Man who has preserved a piece of local history fears for future of the region

Francis Farragher

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Leaving his mark: Seosamh Ó Suilleabháin beside the meticulously restored lime kiln on his family farm near Cill Chiaráin, South Connemara. PHOTOS: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

SEOSAMH Ó Suilleabháin is a farmer from South Connemara who ‘has the land in his name’ but he firmly believes that he doesn’t own it.

A raft of environmental restrictions that have clicked into place over the past two decades has rendered his land ‘worthless and unsellable’.

He loves his native Connemara home and farm but is fearful for the future of the region believing that most of the ‘next generation’ will choose to live and work somewhere else.

Just a few weeks ago, Seosamh finished off a splendid piece of restoration work on a lime kiln that was built by his grandfather, Pateen Ó Suilleabháin back in the 1930s.

It represents the vibrancy and industry of a local village as his grandfather made a living from the sale of lime produced from the kiln near Cill Chiaráin.

With fertilisers scarce, layers of limestone turf were placed in the kiln to produce slabs of lime that could be crushed to reduce the acidity of the local soil.

“This land is in my name but I don’t own it anymore. I cannot sell it, I cannot build on it, I cannot reclaim it, I cannot drain it . . . all because of environmental restrictions,” he says.

A breeder of Connemara ponies, Seosamh feels aggrieved that this web of natura based restrictions now imposed on most of the land in Connemara will eventually lead to its demise as a place where people live.

Already he feels, that his own children and those of other families, will not stick around in a place where they cannot build a house or try to improve their lands.

“We just feel forgotten back here. All we’re getting is a few crumbs and there’s only so long you’ll survive on crumbs. The young people are going . . . and going fast.

“I want the politicians to open their eyes, both Government and Opposition. The poorer land and the poorer farmers are just not getting a fair share of the EU money,” Seosamh believes.

He fears that over the next 20 to 30 years, there could be ‘mass land abandonment’ in Connemara, and if that happens, the region will be denuded of people.

When he looks at the restored lime kiln, it represents a little sign of how people made a living in the area back through the ‘30s and ‘40s when fertiliser was scarce and money even scarcer.

“If there’s no living to be made in an area, people just won’t stay around. The schemes that they’ve brought in like GLAS have far too many conditions to work in places like this.

“We just feel forgotten and neglected back here. You see what’s happening with the air service to the islands – there’s just no respect for the people living out here,” says Seosamh.

For the moment, he’s delighted with how his lime kiln restoration project has worked out as it remembers times past and a different way of life.

“It’s a bit of local history preserved and that’s good but it’s the future I’m looking at and as things stand it’s not good for Connemara and the islands.

“This will be a sad place if there’s just a landscape left with no people living here. That’s my fear as I look ahead,” says Seosamh.

 

Connacht Tribune

Teresa Roche bringing her unique Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese to consumers in her native Galway

Francis Farragher

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Teresa Roche: fully committed to the farm family business.

IT hasn’t been the easiest of years for anyone trying to carry on in business when dealing with the public but Teresa Roche of Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese in Abbey, Loughrea, has taken on the challenge with a fair dose of optimism.

Over recent weeks, her cheeses have gained recognition in the widely regarded John and Sally McKenna’s Good Food Guides in the small producer’s category.

The problems and restrictions on sales caused by the Covid-19 situation prompted Teresa Roche to establish cheese and farm shop on their home farm during the Summer gone by.

“I suppose we had to re-invent the wheel a bit because of the restrictions brought about by Covid but things have worked out well for us and we have been very busy over recent months,” said Teresa Roche.

The key to the success of the Kylemore Cheese brand is that everything is locally produced with the Summer milk from the Roche dairy farm providing all the raw material for their cheeses.

Teresa, a qualified nurse, who worked in that profession for a number of years has travelled to many places all around the world, with her cheese making skills learned and finely honed during a term in the Swiss alpine region.

She’s now fully committed to the farm family business and the dairy herd built by her father Bertie Roche – prominent in Galway IFA for many years – with 10% of their milk now going into cheese production.

“It really is all about local and everything being totally traceable. We have a closed herd [no buying in of stock} with our cheese produced from summer milk and summer grass.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Rise in thefts of in-lamb ewes

Declan Tierney

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Roy O’Brien: a worrying trend.

Sheep farmers across County Galway have been warned about opportunist thefts of in-lamb ewes – they have been warned to keep their gates and doors locked.

There has been a surge in the increase in sheep thefts in the county and IFA Regional Organiser Roy O’Brien admitted it was a worrying trend. He said that he had been onto the Gardai in relation to the matter.

But he said that it was a matter that was becoming an issue in many parts of the country and he had been in touch with Garda representatives in relation to the matter.

It has been reported that a North Galway sheep farmer, on the verge of retirement from the business, had 35 in-lamb ewes stolen from his lands around a mile and a half from his Tuam home.

It is now a matter that is the subject of a Garda investigation who are appealing for information on the alleged theft in the Kilbannon and Gardenfield areas. He said that there was a mix of mule and Suffolk crosses.

The farmer estimates that they were worth €9,000 in total but stated that he, along with neighbours, had carried out an extensive search of the area for the sheep to no avail.

IFA’s Roy O’Brien told Farming Tribune that he had been in touch with the Crime Prevention Office in Galway and they have now issued a warning to farmers to keep gates and sheds locked at this time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

‘Sit tight’ on Ulster accounts is advice

Francis Farragher

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Rose Mary McDonagh: Bide your time with Ulster Bank.

“SIT tight and bide your time” – that’s the advice to farmer customers of Ulster Bank – following confirmation last week from the bank’s parent company NatWest that operations in the Republic of Ireland will be wound up over the next few years.

Headford’s Rose Mary McDonagh – the IFA’s National Farm Business Chairperson – told the Farming Tribune that the last thing any customer should do was to leave the bank and try and work out their own deal.

It is estimated that there are 10,000 farmers across the country with borrowings from Ulster Bank and a further 10,000 with current accounts – in Galway, the bank has branches in the city, Tuam and Athenry as well as in Claremorris, Athlone and Ennis.

“Customers who have tracker mortgages or terms loans with Ulster Bank will be entitled to exactly the same terms and conditions when their loans are transferred to what we hope will be one of the pillar banks here in Ireland.

“Effectively there should be three options open to Ulster Bank in terms of their loan book transfer – to Bank of Ireland, AIB or Permanent TSB. Under no circumstances do we want to hear of any vulture fund involvement,” said Rose Mary McDonagh.

She said that IFA would be keeping a ‘very close watch’ to ensure that the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, and the Central Bank, would not take their eyes off the ball in terms of the Ulster Bank wind down in the Republic.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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