Monday 19 March 2018

Fears cost of hurleys will rise if ash disease spreads

THE cost of hurleys could sharply rise if the deadly ash dieback disease continues to spread across Ireland.

So far hurley makers have absorbed increased production costs. But if the supply of ash - the staple wood used in hurley production - is seriously reduced, it will impact on players young and old.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, hurley manufacturer Tony McAuliffe said the situation was potentially very serious. There could be a 10pc hike in the price of a child's hurl, which currently stands at about €15, he said.

The adult equivalent could face a similar jump, from €23 to €25.30.

"It hasn't had much of an effect so far, but down the road it could be very serious. We just don't know as yet. If ash rises in price, because supplies gets more scarce, it will lead to the customer having to take a hit."

Ash dieback is a disease caused by the fungus Chalara Fraxinia. Some 693 hectares of forest lands in Ireland have been cleared of trees to prevent its spread, and replanted with alternative species.

Despite concerted attempts to eradicate the disease, traces have been found in every county, excluding Louth, Westmeath, Roscommon and Laois, figures obtained from the Department of Agriculture show.

Chairman of the Native Woodland Trust Jim Lawlor warned that the fungal disease was "unstoppable", and could have a devastating effect on the ecology of Ireland's woodland. And he warned it will also impact on our "cultural heritage".

A Department of the Environment spokesman said it would continue to implement "national measures to reduce the risk of the disease becoming established".

Mark O'Regan

Irish Independent

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