Nightmare summer for farmers in the Callows

FARMERS in the Shannon Callows area who have lost thousands of acres of grass and winter feed this summer, held another protest at Meelick Weir last weekend to highlight their difficulties.

Local farmers told the Farming Tribune that parts of their Callows farmlands are now under three to four feet of water – and this during what should be the drier late summer-autumn period.

The farming crisis in the Callows took a serious turn for the worse following record levels of rainfall in July – nearly 10-inches in parts of Galway – but local farmers are incensed over the failure of the river authorities to open up the channel gates in advance of the heavy rains.

Local farmer and long-time activist for better management of the Shannon water channel, Michael Silke, said that the critical juncture in July was the seven to 10-day period before the torrential downpours in mid-month.

“This exceptional period of rainfall was predicted in all of the forecasts with water levels in the Shannon up by two feet by July 15. The gates at Meelick needed to be opened seven to 10-days in advance of this but nothing was done – nearly half of them stayed closed.

“It has  come to the stage where the ESB or Waterways Ireland won’t even answer calls from local farmers. We know that given the heavy rains of July there would have been some flooding, but water levels on land could have been kept down to an acceptable level if the gates were opened in time,” said Michael Silke.

Pictured: LAKE LANDS: James Nevin’s cattle – up to their knees in water – just before he moved them to drier ground last week. Water levels in parts of the Callows are now to three to four feet deep.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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