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Tree disease threatens 400 hurley jobs

UP to 400 jobs in the hurley making industry could be under threat following the outbreak of a new disease in ash trees.

The fungus, Chalara fraxinea, which has spread across 21 countries in Europe has now reached Ireland.

It kills ash trees by stripping their leaves from the top down.

The Irish Guild of Ash Hurley makers has expressed its concern that the disease could devastate their industry.

Damian Larkin, of TJ Larkin Hurleys, said that they were on high alert for the disease.

"It's a real concern for the industry and we're watching this very closely," he said

The spread of the disease to Ireland is being blamed on a batch of infected ash trees, imported from Europe.


It will pose a particular threat to the hurley making industry, with hurley manufacturing responsible for supplying at least 400 full-time jobs.

Around 350,000 hurleys are produced annually in Ireland, though more than 70pc of the ash wood used to make them is now imported.

The new disease could pose further threat to the Irish-made hurley manufacturers, most of whom are members of the Irish Guild of Ash Hurley makers, set up in 1998 to preserve the industry and battle against foreign-imported hurleys.

An outbreak of the fungus has been detected in Co Leitrim.

Minister of State for Food, Horticulture and Food Safety Shane McEntee met with groups from the ash hurley-makers and forestry organisations to discuss the detection of ash dieback disease and the measures being taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

The Department for Food, Agriculture and the Marine (DAFM) has introduced emergency measures under the Plant Health Directive which requires that any ash plants imported into the country must come from an area known to be free of the disease.

Members of the Department have also met with officials in Northern Ireland in order to organise an All-Ireland approach to tackling the disease.

Department officials have said that they are also working closely with the relevant authorities in Britain, where the disease is rampant.


The highly destructive fungus was discovered in fully-grown trees in the British countryside for the first time this week and the Forestry Commission in Britain have reported that almost all woodland in Britain is at risk of being ravaged by the disease.