'We'd been told they were safer outside' - Dairy farmer's cows electrocuted during Storm Ophelia

Appeal for generators to be sent to dairy farms in Storm hit areas

Farmer Thomas Dermody and his son Jack (8), from Aglish, Co Kilkenny begin the clean up Photo: Tony Gavin
Farmer Thomas Dermody and his son Jack (8), from Aglish, Co Kilkenny begin the clean up Photo: Tony Gavin

Nicola Anderson and Claire Fox

In Aglish, Co Kilkenny, Storm Ophelia has come at a sobering cost for farmer Thomas Dermody who lost two four-year-old Friesian dairy cows - electrocuted after a power line had come down in his field.

The damage was €2,500, he said.

"We'd been told they were safer outside than in barns that might come down - but that wasn't the case here," he said grimly.

He had knocked a hole in a ditch to retrieve the other eight cows that had been standing just 40 metres away from the dead livestock.

But these weren't the big losses, he said, mindful of the death toll, with Michael Pyke (31) having lost his life not too far away in Cahir.

Just up the road, farmer Stephen Wall had been forced up onto a treacherous barn roof in the middle of the storm to secure it after it had collapsed, threatening to send sheets of rusting metal flying into the road. It had been a big operation in high winds, said his wife Debbie.

Damage to a barn in Carrigen, Co. Waterford caused by Hurricane Ophelia.
Photo: Tony Gavin 17/9/2017
Damage to a barn in Carrigen, Co. Waterford caused by Hurricane Ophelia. Photo: Tony Gavin 17/9/2017

"But it had to be done, he couldn't risk it hurting someone," she said.

Milking parlour lost

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Dairy farmer Paul Keating from Kildorrery,Co Cork said he feels “lucky to be alive” as Storm Ophelia wiped away the majority of his milking parlour roof on Monday.

He said that he put tyres down on top of the parlour roof to try and secure it but that they hadn’t been enough to stop the force of the wind destroying most of it.

“We’re all lucky to be alive and safe. I’d never seen anything like it. We milked the cows very early as we thought the power would go out. It ripped the roof to pieces and the water pipes and electrics were torn to shreds.

Luckily an electrician friend of mine got us back up and running on Tuesday morning but we’re still without a roof. We’ve a canopy roof at the moment.  Hopefully insurance will cover it all. ”

Cattle shed 'blown to pieces'

West Cork farmer, Tom Wilson from Enniskeane added that he has been left without power, while three quarters of his cattle shed was blown to pieces due to Monday’s high winds.

“It’s very disappointing as we’ve still no power and cows had been milking well all year. It’s the worst I’ve seen in all of my days and I’ve been milking all my life,” he said.

Conor Creedon, from Rathmore, Co Kerry is also without power. Although he has access to a generator, it is not strong enough to cool his milk. He feels that farmers are being “left until last” by the ESB.

Tom Wilson shed with roof blown off
Tom Wilson shed with roof blown off

“We haven’t seen any ESB vans around here. It’s the same situation three miles north of us. A fuse blew in a friend of mine’s farm. We’re being left until last. We hope to get power back soon but I can’t see that happening,” he said.

According to Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) President John Comer the “most pressing matter” is power outages in milking parlours and that everything needs to be done to make sure farmers have access to generators.

The ESB stated that they are: "prioritising repairs to higher voltage lines. While obviously frustrating for customers living in smaller clusters, this is the most effective way of restoring power following an unprecedented weather event such as Storm Ophelia. At the height of the storm, 385,000 customers were without power but 170,000 have now had their power restored."

Appeal for generators

Meanwhile, a large number of milk suppliers remained without power last night, according to Ireland's largest milk processor Glanbia Ireland.

Those without access to generators face a very difficult situation with herds now requiring milking urgently.

It said the worst affected regions are Waterford, Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary but issues are not confined to these areas. On Tuesday afternoon, the number of seriously affected Glanbia farms was estimated at approximately 500.

Glanbia Ireland said it is working with suppliers, collecting milk as frequently as possible where access is safe.

In some of the worst affected areas, access to some farms is still not possible due to the presence of fallen trees with attached power cables.

Glanbia Ireland Chairman Henry Corbally said there is a severe shortage of suitable generators available.

"I would urge farmers in areas that have not been adversely affected by Storm Ophelia to consider making suitable mobile generators available to dairy farmers in affected regions.”

Online Editors

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