Michael O’Donoghue

Interview by Sarah Bennett on October 17, 2012

Gender: Male

Report date: December 9, 2015

Time Description
File 1 0:00:00 - 0:04:30 FARMING IN THE BURREN/WINTERAGE - Differences between farming in the Burren and other areas. Winterage is best up on the second row of hills. Bigger farms had a herdsman and he was allowed to keep a number of stock cows, sheep and goats. They maintained the winterage over the summer. Memory of Dillon's in Crusheen walking cattle up to Carron in October/November passing school in Boston.
0:04:31 - 0:07:54 TILLAGE - Speaks of lowland tillage in 1940s and 1950s.Farmers obliged to till 1/3 of his arable land. High quality of potatoes in the Burren area. Corn was very important. They had a mill. Says beet tops were good for animal feed. Speaks of sugar rations.
0:07:55 - 0:12:00 FARMING - Low-lying rock in this area. Cattle on rock during summer months also. Tillage fed livestock. Mixed farming. No grants. Money was scarce. Speaks of threshing-there was no waste.
0:12:01 - 0:14:25 LAND RECLAMATION - Small fields due to large rocks. 1950s extensive land reclamation began in 1970s until 1992.
0:14:26 - 0:15:18 SPECIAL AREAS OF CONSERVATION (SACS)1992 - Big changes in the area.
0:15:19 - 0:16:37 CORCOMROE ABBEY - The land was good. The monks did a lot of work.
0:16:38 - 0:18:35 BIG HOUSES - Rockforest was Bindon Blood's farm. Rockvale belonged to the Darcy's. Rathorpe to the Forestor's and after that Geagan's (that was a big farm). Aughrim-Minister Park- small but well organised. They were leased to local farmers. Blakemount-the Blake family. Better land around these houses.
0:18:35 - 0:20:52 SACS: 1992 RESTRICTIONS AND RULES - Land idle -refers to Burren Beo and how they have shown that leaving it idle is not beneficial. e.g. of his own land turned into wilderness. Goats in the past kept down the overgrowth.
0:20:52 - 0:22:33 CATTLE - Market demand for younger cattle so didn't suit winterage. Change to suckler cows and winterage ideal so giving it a new lease of life. Plants growing.
0:22:33 - 0:24:57 DAIRY COWS - Land wilderness still very overgrown. Dairying changed it too. Rocks didn't suit the dairy cows. But now dairying nearly gone from area. 60 dairy farmers in the past, now only seven dairy farmers. These seven producing more than the 60!
0:24:57 - 0:26:43 CHANGES - Tillage & mixed farming, dairying/livestock area, livestock but no return to tillage. Tillage a big farmer's game. Tillage concentrated in the east. Dairy in Munster.
0:26:43 - 0:29:39 BREEDS OF CATTLE SUITED TO THIS AREA - Market rules. In past was Shorthorn and Hereford. Holstein. Today's market wants beef with little fat. Spain and Italy. Britain like marbled meat. It's important to provide European as well as British markets.
0:29:39 - 0:31:00 EUROPE /GLOBALISATION - Raised standards of living for farmers. Has helped make livestock sustainable. Different standards of care and health and safety in other countries. Subsidies are vital.
0:32:42 - 0:35:02 ENVIRONMENT AND REPS (1994)- Drop in money from reps in recent years. Farmers had to enhance their farms. Burren Beo continuing to maintain environment and improve it.
0:35:03 - 0:36:42 THE FUTURE/CHANGES - Farms can't provide adequate income for a family. Needs more income. Contractors do a lot of work now. Return isn't there for time put into farm!