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Eoin Collins and the Kilfenora crew

Clare contractor to appear on TG4 show this week

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A CLARE farmer and teacher will appear on TG4 later this month, as part of a six-episode observational documentary titled Contractors, writes Conor Clohessy.

The show will air on Thursday, February 24, at 9:30pm, and will explore the working lives and personal narratives of seven agricultural contracting families from diverse locations over the critical period between April and September.

Eoin Collins, who teaches Irish at Ennis Community College, is part of Collins Agri, a business his father started in 1994; Eoin specialises in silage, baling, tillage and slurry alongside his father and three brothers.

Eoin said: “The camera crews came around first in April and stayed with us until the end of October. They were in no way invasive; they were able to be a fly on the wall, shooting as we went about the day’s business from morning to evening. It’ll be very true-to-life and straightforward.”

He admitted that the process was a busy experience, to have the camera crew around during an already hectic summer period.

It was often that Eoin answered the phone during those days and expected one of fourteen people to be on the other side.

Despite the extra work to which he and his family had to be put, he emphasised that he enjoyed it and looks forward to being able to look back on his time on “Contractors” in thirty years’ time.

The Collins farm is in Kilfenora, though their operations in contracting would take them mostly to Carran, Kilshanny, Kilnaboy and other areas.

“One of the main reasons I put my name down in the first place was because they were looking for contractors who had the bit of Irish, I reckoned that was a slim enough target audience.

Teacher Eoin Collins who joins the family contracting business in the summer will feature on TG4 this week.

“I always enjoyed Irish when I was younger, and my mam was a primary school teacher, so she was always encouraging us to use it at home.”

The show will also look at farming contractors in Limerick, Kerry, Tipperary, Galway, Meath and Donegal, to highlight their challenges, their daily routine and their role in the agricultural sub-economy of contracting.

The contracting industry provides the 137,000 families whose livelihoods depend on farming with time, manpower and expensive specialist equipment, arriving every year with 20,000 tractors and harvesters, €150 million worth of machinery and 10,000 full and part-time operators.

In a single season, contractors will harvest five million bales of silage, spread 10 billion litres of slurry and handle a mammoth nationwide programme of hedge-cutting, reseeding, crop spraying, fencing, ploughing and drainage maintenance.

Along with the workload, the contractors on the show will deal with immense pressure of a seasonal industry requiring huge investment in equipment, long hours, unpredictable schedules and skilled workers that are often hard to find.

With the unprecedented mix of Irish culture, heritage experience and contemporary society presented in the Irish language and featuring many female-led enterprises, “Contractors” promises to be melting pot of all ages, generations and genders set in the Ireland of the 2020s.

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