Farmers on the Aran Islands are facing severe difficulties as a result of the continuing drought, with grass supplies extremely tight, and some cattle being moved to the mainland to secure grazing.
While the wet weather since the weekend has offered some respite to farmers, almost 15 weeks without significant rainfall has left much of the land on the islands of Inis Mór, Inis Oirr and Inis Meáin parched and burned.
The Covid-19 restrictions have exacerbated farmers' difficulties by preventing mainland buyers purchasing stock and moving animals to the mainland.
This has resulted in a back-up of livestock on island farms at a time when grass supplies are extremely tight.
Water restrictions have resulted in supplies being cut off each night, adding to the challenges facing stock owners.
Geraldine Ní Fhátharta said farmers on Inis Meáin were moving cattle from field to field "to get some pickings".
Speaking to the Farming Independent, Ms Ní Fhátharta explained that until this week, the island had received no significant rainfall since March 19.
"There is no grass left, the fields are absolutely bare," she said.
Geraldine was fortunate to rent some land close to the Neale in Mayo and was able to get seven animals off the island. Seven more need to be moved, she said.
Restricted transport capacity as a result of the Covid-19 regulations has compounded farmers' difficulties, Geraldine explained.
"We were locked up for six weeks before we could get any cattle out [off the island]," she said.
The shortage of grass on winter grazing ground is another serious issue facing island farmers, said Bertie Joyce of Inis Mór.
As winter grazing grounds are generally SACs on which farmers are not allowed to spread fertiliser, they are unlikely to recover from the drought and will therefore be of limited value this winter, explained Mr Joyce.
The loss of the winter grazing ground meant that farmers on the Aran Islands needed some support measure from the Department of Agriculture to purchase meals to feed to livestock through the winter - similar to the national fodder scheme which was introduced during the 2018 drought, Mr Joyce said.