Water levels reach their lowest point in Connemara for years

Sheepdog Bella crosses the Bunnaun Stream, without getting his paws wet, as John Geoghegan and son Seán, look at the water levels dropping by the day. PHOTO: JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY.
Sheepdog Bella crosses the Bunnaun Stream, without getting his paws wet, as John Geoghegan and son Seán, look at the water levels dropping by the day. PHOTO: JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY.

FROM motorbiking in Greece at the end of May to shearing sheep early in drought threatened Connemara, there was one common thread for John Geoghegan – temperatures above the 30 degrees mark.

Last week, John, from Glengowla, Oughterard, looked at his local landscape and the streams beginning to dry up and got help to shear some of his Blackface hill sheep flock.

“It’s a lot earlier than normal but it’s an animal welfare issue in this heat.

“It was nearly as hot last week in Oughterard as it was in Greece when I took part in the motorbike rally event,” John Geoghegan told the Farming Tribune.

He drove his Enduro KTM 690 in the seven-day Greek rally over a variety of terrains and managed to make his way to the end of the event – not a bad achievement given that 100 of the 270 competitors did not reach the finishing line.

“This was a great event to take part in, across a variety of very testing terrains and I was delighted to complete the course.

“There were days when the temperature was in the 30s – I didn’t expect though that I’d be seeing the same thing here in Oughterard a few weeks later,” he said.

While John Geoghegan doesn’t yet want to join the growing number of farmers in the ‘praying for rain’ category, he said that there are worries across parts of Connemara as many of the smaller hill and mountain streams are drying up.

“The Bunnaun stream goes through my farm and while there is still some water flowing, the levels have gone down very low, while many of the smaller streams feeding into the Bunnaun have dried up completely,” said John.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.