Monday 18 December 2017

Hundreds turn out as cattle are blessed in ancient rite

Gordon Deegan

HUNDREDS turned out in the Burren village of Carron to celebrate an ancient tradition.

As part of the inaugural Burren Winterage Weekend, farmers and local residents watched as farmer Billy Reilly drove his 45 cattle to the Burren highlands for the winter months.

Watching the local priest bless the cattle was Burren farmer, Michael Davoren. He said: "The Burren is the only landscape in the world where cattle are brought to the highlands for the winter. "It is high time that we celebrated this tradition."

Dr Brendan Dunford, director of the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme (BFCP) said that the winter grazing "underpins all of the heritage value of the Burren".

Without it, he said: "we wouldn't have the biodiversity, the flowers and species-rich grassland.

"It's nice to honour the many generations that have herded cattle on these hills, to celebrate their legacy and to hope that these wonderful traditions can somehow be sustained."

Dr Dunford said: "This doesn't happen elsewhere in the world and we are witnessing a tradition that has been taking place in the Burren for thousands of years," adding that winterage is central to the BFCP, which has provided Burren farmers with payments of €3m over the past three years.

Irish Independent

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