Farming & Fisheries

Beara’s dairy farmer numbers have fallen from 650 to four in half century

September 21st, 2021 10:10 PM

By Southern Star Team

The farm at Droumlave, Adrigole, owned by Pat O’Neill, which overlooks Adrigole harbour and recently welcomed a visit by IFA president Tim Cullinan. This is a beef farm, but there are just four dairy farms now left on Beara. (Photo: Anne Marie Cronin)

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HALF a century ago, there were 650 dairy farmers on the Beara peninsula, but now there are only four.

This is just one lesser known fact shared by retired Castletownbere teacher Con ‘Durrihy’ O’Sullivan who is a guest on a new podcast designed to put the spotlight on aspects of Irish life that’s ‘vanishing’.

After a nationwide call out, spear-headed by former RTÉ newscaster Anne Doyle, the Vanishing Ireland podcast series is now up and running.

The series features 16 profile interviews with elders of Irish society conducted by historian Turtle Bunbury.

He co-founded the acclaimed Vanishing Ireland project 20 years ago. Among other things, the project saw four hugely popular books published.

Con, who was a teacher in Castletownbere for over four decades, applies his superb 80-year-old memory to recalling the geography, the poetry, and the banter of the Beara, in his podcast interview.

He remembers dancing at the Silver Slipper and how he had to change trains 12 times to get from Kenmare to his school in County Laois, while also recalling the dwindling numbers of dairy farmers on the peninsula.

The series documents the, very often, extraordinary lives of our older population, but does it in a way that celebrates the past while informing younger generations in shaping the future. The 2021 series highlights the wealth of humour, resilience and wisdom from Ireland’s elders.

Created in audio format, Turtle discusses life and its learnings with people across Ireland, saving and celebrating their voices for future generations.

Turtle says: ‘Introducing the voices of Vanishing Ireland to the podcast generation has been an entirely new departure for our elders but has been deeply exciting and very much in keeping with our aims. I feel very honoured to have had this time with Ireland’s elders and to chronicle their unique and fascinating stories.

‘We hope everyone enjoys listening to the series as much as we have enjoyed creating it,’ he added.

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