UP to 1,000 acres of farmland in the Ballynacally/Kildysart area was flooded on Sunday, as a result of a major breach in the Shannon Estuary embankment. Over 50 farmers in the area have been affected – 43 in Ballynacally and the remainder in Kildysart.
Kildysart graveyard has also been flooded, which has caused further distress to locals.
At a public meeting, attended by elected representatives, in Ballynacally community centre, a formal appeal for Government intervention was made. Efforts are to be made as soon as possible to assess the cost of the damage to support the appeal.
There are no reports of the loss of livestock but in one instance fodder had to be brought to two horses isolated on raised ground. On many farms, however, silage bales have been left under several feet of water, which will cause an additional financial burden for farmers.
John Joe O’Sullivan, whose farm in Ballynacally includes a parcel of corcass, said his holding had never been flooding on this scale before. He says the problem lies in the fact that since the Board of Works and OPW stopped maintaining the Shannon embankments around 20 years ago, it has been left to local farmers to do the work and they simply couldn’t keep apace of what’s needed.
A full-time farmer, married with three teenage children, John Joe has supplemental income from a small contract business. The flood damage will put him under severe financial pressure.
John Joe lives in a very scenic location with a view of the estuary from his sitting room but he now has the sight of flood water right across his land.
“We are farming on lands that were recovered from the sea; stone by stone men built the embankments in the late 18 hundreds. My parcel of corcass land was never flooded in more than 100 years. My father is 91 years, and he has no recollection of flooding,” he said.
“There wasn’t a lot of work involved for the OPW to maintain the embankments but since it has been left to us, all we have been able to do really is to keep the finger in the dyke.
“The farmers of this area need help, as soon as possible. Our future livelihoods are at stake,” he concluded.