Aoife Forde, along with her family, will be leading the annual Burren Winterage Community Cattle drive this Sunday (October 27th).
The 23-year-old – who is pursuing a Masters in Agriculture, Innovation and Support – grew up in the heart of the Burren, farming, alongside her father, P.J. and her mother, Fiona.
Members of the local community and visitors will join the farm family as they walk their in-calve suckler cows up to their winterage pastures in the Burren uplands.
This ancident tradition still plays a vital role in conserving the Burren’s famous landscape and its biodiversity.
“The cattle drive demonstrates the pride that people living in the Burren feel about the farmers and farming heritage of the Burren”, Brendan Dunford, manager of the Burren Programme said.
The practice of Winterage or herding cattle from the lowlands up to the highlands for grazing over winter is unique to the Burren and nearby Aran Islands.
The landscape of upland limestone in the Burren provides a warm, dry place for the cattle to rest, as well as water from calcium-rich springs to drink and a great variety of plants to eat.
Significantly, the practice of winter grazing has been proven by scientists to ensuring that each spring, the great biodiversity of Burren's orchid-rich grasslands can come back to life and thrive.
5kms and 10km routes
Annalisa Murphy, co-ordinator at the Burrenbeo Trust added, “This year, as we follow the Forde family and their cattle up to their winterage pastures, we will be able to enjoy stunning views of the Burren hills and of Carron turlough.”
“The full route to the winterage and back will be 10 km long but there is also an option to do a shorter 5km loop.”
The walk will commence with an orchestral performance at Carron church at 11 am by Sonic Strings, a local teen orchestra joined by their Swedish orchestral friends DalaViolinisterna. Registration for the walk will begin at 11:30 am.
The walk is open to all with a suggested donation of €5-€10/person towards the landscape charity, Burrenbeo Trust to go towards their education programmes in local schools.
For further information, please see here.
Image source: Willie O'Reilly