Times Past: The foot and mouth outbreak that rocked the country.


On this week’s Times Past, we look at the devastation to the farming community during the outbreak that shook 2001.

Times Past: The foot and mouth outbreak that rocked the country.

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On this week’s Times Past, we look at the devastation to the farming community during the outbreak that shook 2001.

The Early Millennium, 2001, saw one of the biggest disease outbreaks sweep the country, as reported by RTÉ.

In the above report, by Rté, we hear about the first confirmed outbreak of the disease, in the Cooley peninsula. The report tells us of the locals, trapped in the exclusion zone as a result. Dave Nally reported from the ground and we heard of locals listening to the news on a regular basis for updates. Then they received the result that all farmers dreaded had been confirmed”

It was confirmed that there were two cases of foot and mouth on a local farm, with locals devastated.

“It was just an awful day actually the first day.” said a farmer’s wife.

The bulletin described it as the biggest ever mass slaughters of animals. Michael Rice in Proleek Co. Louth, was the first to have all of his livestock culled, while neighbours weren’t far around the corner.

“We knew...My son had the sheep in the shed beside them...We knew ours were going to be next...On Thursday we got the news they were going slaughtering them” said the neighbouring farmer John Wehrly.

The farmer described how a team of vets came down and injected the lambs with the ‘deadly injection’, the farmer said it was devastating to see young lambs being put down like that. He said the vets then proceeded to ‘slaughter’ the sheep, though he did not stay around to watch, such was his devastation.

Peter Treanor, another local farmer in the area, described his trauma next.

“I felt bad about it...some of the sheep were lambing

He described sheep being put onto lorries, while they were mid-lambing. He said the incident would have brought tears to any eyes and described his emotions around it as “sadness”. The family got to keep all of their cattle, though they lost every sheep.

“I need my sheep...I love to go out in the morning and look at my sheep...feed them. What am I going to do? Peter asked.

A bad start to the new millennium for the farming world, though thankfully the outbreak was controlled. Major sporting and celebratory events, (Patrick's day) were canceled, as the country tried to battle the outbreak. Many more farms were found to have the disease present, with thousands of animals culled as a result.

Restrictions were put in place across the country, with Northern Ireland also succumbing to the outbreak. Foot baths became mandatory on every farm, as we eventually got to grips with the crisis. Thankfully, We have come a long way since the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001, the diseaase that took the farming world to its knees.

You can watch the full report from 2001 on the RTÉ website, here

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