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

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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

Bord Bia say demand is ‘on the up’ for quality assured lambs

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Market growing for quality assured Irish lamb.

WHILE 95% of Irish beef is quality assured (QA) at the point of slaughter, the comparable figure for Irish lamb is only 60%, according to the latest Farmer Newsletter from the Bord Bia Quality Assured body.

It pointed out that while QA status on Irish lamb has been important on the domestic market for some time, there has recently been growing interest from key EU customers in securing quality assured Irish lamb.

“Purchasers of Irish lamb products are increasingly looking for proof that meat is produced sustainably on farms that are certified members of an accredited quality assurance scheme.

“Such a quality assurance scheme is to be based on sustainability principles incorporating environmental, social and economic aspects,” the newsletter states.

It also stated the importance of presenting lambs for slaughter that meet customer specifications as regards weight limits and fat cover.

The current specification from the major processors is generally for R grading lambs or better with a fat score of 3 and a carcase weight of 21kg, according to Bord Bia.

They state that upper carcase weight limits can vary across the year from 20kg-23kg, with ‘no economic sense’ in keeping lambs to heavier carcase weights if they can be finished sooner.

“Killing a lamb with adequate fat cover is also essential to meet customer requirements, and in recent weeks, some reports have indicated an increase in the number of under-finished lambs being presented for slaughter due to deadweight prices coming under pressure.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Suckler cap has to go in new plan

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Connacht IFA Chairman, Pat Murphy

A LEADING West of Ireland IFA representative has called on the Minister for Agriculture and his Department to move away from ‘pretend negotiations and pre-loaded questions’ if progress is to be made with the new CAP proposals.

Connacht IFA Chairman, Pat Murphy, called on Minister Charlie McConalogue, to get on top of the CAP situation by listening to farmers’ views on the ground rather than sticking to any pre-arranged agendas.

“A case in point relates to the proposal on suckler cows which wants to put in place a cap on the cow numbers based on a given reference year.

“There’s no way that suckler cow numbers are going to shoot up dramatically in Ireland over the coming years – suckler cow farming is most definitely not the problem in relation to environmental proposals.

“But over the coming years, there may well be young farmers interested in getting into sucklers or there may be farmers whose suckler numbers could have fallen due to disease or health issues – the door must be left open for them,” Pat Murphy told the Farming Tribune.

He said that the whole thrust of the policy should be to support suckler farmers who were the backbone of Ireland’s multi-billion euro meat industry.

“The suckler cow cap must go – it just seems to be some kind of ‘show gesture’ for Europe – but as well as being meaningless it has the potential to do real harm to this sector of farming.

“We also want real commitments as regards Pillar 2 payments with the State’s contribution rising from 47% to 57% to include the introduction of a meaningful suckler cow scheme (€300 per cow).

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.

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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Connacht Tribune

Changes in dosing regime to be fought

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Stephen Canavan: Prescriptions for dosing is a non-runner.

GALWAY IFA’s Animal Health Representative, Stephen Canavan, has pledged ‘vehement opposition’ to plans coming down the track to bring in prescription regulations for dosing and dipping products.

He told the Farming Tribune that the Department ‘didn’t seem to get it’  in terms of what the implications of such a move would be for farmers across the country.

“In terms of parasitic control for such things as fluke and worms, farmers currently operate under a very routine, traceable and controlled system.

“We are absolutely and vehemently opposed to any changes that will require farmers to only get dosing on a prescription basis, both from a management point of view and the monopoly type market situation that would then apply,” said Stephen Canavan.

He said that common-sense seemed to have ‘gone out the window’ with the Department, citing the example of a prescription being needed for sheep dip to ensure the control of maggots.

“Every sheep farmer knows that sheep need to be dipped to prevent maggots in July – this is purely routine animal welfare that farmers have practised down through the years,” he added.

Stephen Canavan also warned that more restrictive regulations were also being put forward at EU level as regards antibiotic usage on the basis of farmers needing a prescription for each individual dose administered.

“A sheep farmer with 100 ewes, will know that over the course of the lambing season, that he or she will a couple of bottles of penicillin.

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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