• Pippa Hackett

Shannon Callows farmers outline the challenges they face

Updated: Jun 26



This week I met some Offaly farmers on the Shannon Callows, including dairy farmer Brendan McGarry, whose family have been farming the Callows for generations, and is no stranger to the challenging nature of farming in this area.

The Callows are also a special habitats for a range of flora, as well as endangered wading birds, and I delighted to see lapwing, redshank, curlew, and snipe. Brendan works closely with Kathryn Finney from BirdWatch Ireland who also farms in this area, and co-ordinates the Irish Breeding Curlew EIP Project.

The Callows, however, have become increasingly threatened by summer flooding, which is not only challenging for farming enterprises, it is catastrophic for the breeding birds who can lose a whole brood. We discussed how the water levels are managed, and the possibilities to help improve the situation here for these farmers. I have taken on board many of the suggestions I received during the visit and will liaise with my own Department and with colleagues in other Government Departments to address as many of them as I can over the term of this Government.