Shrule farmers hit by six-month flood nightmare

Cllr Patsy O’Brien

Cllr Patsy O’Brien

News stories of homes, farms and livelihoods devastated by storm and flood damage have long receded from the daily headlines.

However, in a small corner of south Mayo, in Gurteen, Shrule, a group of 50 landowners who should be looking out over the typical summer vista of luscious green fields ripe for haymaking are instead awash, with up to 400 acres of farmland sitting under water for more than six months now.

Cllr Patsy O’Brien this week issued a strong appeal to Mayo County Council, on behalf of the landowners, to take action on the matter.

“People in the area have never seen flooding like this before or for this duration,” said Cllr O’Brien, at a meeting of the Claremorris Municipal District on Wednesday morning.

“There’s a real risk now that farmers could lose their single farm payments because they haven’t been able to stock the land. This is a huge issue for people in the area.”

Cllr O’Brien is asking Mayo County Council to apply to the Office of Public Works for flood relief work in the area.

John Tedders is one of the flooded landowners. He said he has lost the use of 10 acres of farmland this year.

He had to purchase 100 extra bales of silage - at a cost of €3,000 - because he could not make enough silage to feed his stock over the winter months.

“And I am only one of about 50 landowners affected with between 300 and 400 acres of land flooded,” he added. “On top of that, there’s a road that has been flooded for the same amount of time so local farmers have to make a five-mile detour to get around it.”

The land in question is located within a special area of conservation, and is therefore subject to stringent protection.

Cllr O’Brien said he does not want to see the necessary relief work bogged down in paperwork and red tape because of the SAC status.

“This has to be a priority. The estimated cost of the relief work is about €100,000 but it can’t be held up by reports and assessments, which would probably cost more than the work itself.”

Mr Tedders, who has met the OPW, said a relatively simple solution that would not impact on other landowners is available, with an old drain available to relieve flooding and divert water into the nearby Cooley Lake and Black River.

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