Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 6 December 2016

'I love doing this job and the views are wonderful'

Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30

Niamh Ferriter of Cummenole on the Dingle Peninsula keeps limosine sucklers and succesfully lambed 120 ewes in April this year. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan
Niamh Ferriter of Cummenole on the Dingle Peninsula keeps limosine sucklers and succesfully lambed 120 ewes in April this year. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan
Niamh Ferriter's farm at Cummenole, Dingle Peninsula. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

It has been a hectic spring and early summer season on Slea Head near Dingle where Niamh Ferriter runs the sheep and livestock end of the family's farming enterprise.

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"But look on the bright side," she says. "We got through 10 storms over the winter and we are still standing. It was horrendous down in the Kerry Gaeltacht, but then it seemed to be the same for everyone else."

Niamh looks after a flock of 130 breeding ewes - a mix of Blackfaces, Texels and Suffolks - and all lambed well from February to May, while the Limousin and Aberdeen Angus cattle on the 80 acre upland holding have also thrived this year.

"We were very busy up to a few weeks ago, but everything was good and we had few mortalities among the sheep. It has been a good year so far but we run a spring-autumn breeding operation so we will see what happens in September," says Niamh (29).

"Prices have been good this year - certainly better than last year."

The Ferriters, who sell their livestock at Dingle Mart, have noticed that lamb prices tend to improve as you go up country but she is philosophical about this price disparity. "I don't know why this is but anyway from a farm view point if you keep costs down you will make some profit," she adds.

"Anyway let's say I'd prefer to be doing what I am doing than being in the dairy sector."

Next up on the farming agenda for Niamh is the annual farm maintenance programme and the priority here is fencing. Then she intends to spend some time with the Dingle Cookery School to hone her culinary skills for the second enterprise on the farm where she lives with her mother Caitlin, brother Eoin (35) and her son Cathal (8). Her sister Brid is teaching in Dublin and playing international tag rugby for Ireland.

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The Ferriters run the Slea Head Farm B&B and restaurant in the scenic Gaeltacht area which overlooks the ­Blasket Islands.

"We have a busy time of it over the summer with the amount of tourism to the region. We still have visitors asking us where the schoolhouse in the film Ryan's Daughter is located and now with the Star Wars movies being filmed here that tourism business is likely to continue."

So is there anything interesting to come menu-wise on the lamb front I ask?

"No," she replies: "I find that people either like lamb when it is on the menu or say not lamb please."

Niamh, as befits a woman from this region is a pure Gaeilgeoir, who speaks the native language fluently.

Her off-farm pastime, apart from bringing Cathal to local rugby and GAA matches, is playing the accordion but she quickly adds "not publicly yet".

But her real passion is the sheep and livestock. "I love doing this job and the views from Slea Head are wonderful." she adds.

In conversation with Ken Whelan

Indo Farming