Tree dig-up 'was painful'
Martin Kennedy could barely watch as 18,500 ash trees were dug up and buried in huge pits on his farm near Kilmeaden, in Co Waterford, last week.
Mr Kennedy was one of the 175 ash plantation owners that were notified by the Department of Agriculture in recent months that their ash stands were earmarked for destruction to prevent any further spread of the new ash die-back disease that has savaged plantations right across Europe.
"It was very upsetting to watch it, especially when the trees were in such good shape," said Mr Kennedy.
"When the Department official came out to inspect the trees last November, he said the trees tested negative for the disease.
"Even the lads that were taking them out said that they were twice the size of anything else that they had taken out."
Kennedy reduced his 60 cow suckler herd by a third in order to plant 18.5ac of his land with ash trees four years ago.
All debris from the trees had to be buried in 10-foot deep pits on Mr Kennedy's land.
Mr Kennedy has until March 2015 to replant his land, but there is now a ban on ash planting for the foreseeable future.