Farm Ireland
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Tuesday 20 November 2018

'I loved farming but to be honest, I don’t miss it' - Former farmer on why he gave up dairying

Ned Maher, owner of Ardaire Springs, one of the rural recreation hubs in Kilkenny which will be a hive of activity during the first ever Trail Kilkenny Outdoor Festival this July.
Ned Maher, owner of Ardaire Springs, one of the rural recreation hubs in Kilkenny which will be a hive of activity during the first ever Trail Kilkenny Outdoor Festival this July.
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

Former dairy farmer and agricultural contractor Ned Maher, was hooked on the idea of setting up an angling centre on his family farm close to the Kilkenny/ Waterford border from the moment he visited a similar enterprise in Mullingar over 20 years ago.

And when Kilkenny LEADER Partnership reviewed his comprehensive business plan and saw for themselves how passionate he was about what he was setting out to do at Ardaire Springs in Mooncoin, they too went for it – hook, line and sinker.

Today, angling enthusiasts, school groups, corporate and leisure travellers from as far afield as Cork, Dublin, Belfast and elsewhere are revelling in the 2.5-acre lake attraction which is brimming with rainbow and brown trout, ranging from 2lbs to a whopping 20lbs in weight.

Ardaire Springs’ convenient location, just 6 miles from Waterford and close to Carrick-on-Suir and Kilkenny city, makes it a particularly good location for all to reach.

Ned hopes a two week-long festival which runs from July 2 and includes water sports, walks and abseiling as well as equestrian events, archery and more will spur even more business and generate even further jobs and income in rural Kilkenny and the surrounding hinterland.

"I gave up the dairying 12 years ago. I was also doing a bit of contracting.

Ned Maher, owner of Ardaire Springs, one of the rural recreation hubs in Kilkenny which will be a hive of activity during the first ever Trail Kilkenny Outdoor Festival this July.
Ned Maher, owner of Ardaire Springs, one of the rural recreation hubs in Kilkenny which will be a hive of activity during the first ever Trail Kilkenny Outdoor Festival this July.

"I’d seen the place in Mullingar and it was still very much in my mind to set up something like it here. It really stuck in my head for some reason.

"I’ve up to 60 people a week coming now and we’re extending our tackle shop.

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"While the bad weather in the spring hit farmers hard, it meant the rivers were flooded and not suitable for angling so people came here.

"I loved farming but to be honest, I don’t miss it. I love what I’m doing now.”

Ardaire Springs is offering fishing beginners lessons in fly and bait fishing as well as fishing sessions as part of the Trail Kilkenny Outdoor Festival.

Now Ardaire Springs Angling Centre is one of several activity and leisure hubs across Kilkenny which will be a hive of activity and fun for two weeks from Monday next, July 2, as the first ever Trail Kilkenny Outdoor Festival gets underway.

The action-packed, two week Festival is a joint venture, funded by Trail Kilkenny and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership through the Rural Development Program.

Activity providers throughout the sprawling county are showcasing their centres, offering taster sessions and discounted offers and are joining with Trail and the Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership to get the first two weeks of the primary school holidays off to a flying start.

The programme runs from July 2 to 15 and is designed to get everyone active, get families and friends together and spur everyone to get outdoors or just try something new with expert tutors and activity providers scattered all over the world-renowned Kilkenny Countryside, Rural Recreation Officer, Harry Everard, said. Booking details are available on www.trailkilkennyoutdoorfestival.ie 

“When people think of Kilkenny, they automatically think of hurling. But the county has so much more to offer. We’ve packed our programme with everything from magical, memorable morning walks for children aged 3 to 6 right up to clay pigeon, air rifle and rock climbing adventures, a three day introduction to rowing programme and loads more.”

Programme highlights include Trek and Treat events, free looped walks in Freshford, Jenkinstown and in the city, guided loop cycles,  a chance to explore the Barrow Towpath on a mountain bike and more.

There’s also a 5 day pony camp or pony treks, guided white water adventures, a guided history tour in a Canadian Canoe, stand-up paddle boarding and an Introduction to Rowing 3 day session.

The new Outdoor Hub in Graiguenamanagh will host a number of events which include Wild Time for children aged 4 to 10. A similar adventure awaits with Trail Kids which offers everything form Ninjaline skills and shelter building to giant Jenga challenges.

There’s also clay pigeon shooting, archery and air rifle sessions while Castlecomer Discovery Park will be buzzing with events and challenges which include zipline, octagon and highropes as well as giant catapult building, raft building and more.

And finally, if you’ve got a head for heights and a hunger for adventure, then you’ll want to book one of the rock climbing sessions at Ballykeeffe Quarry.

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