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CaptainVertigo
2013-11-12 17:47:54
Height of Folly - says O'Toole
FINTAN O'TOOLE WRITES in The Irish Times:
This is about the height of folly – literally and figuratively. Literally, it is the bizarre story of why farmers are wasting public and private money putting fences on the top of mountains, making beautiful places ugly. Figuratively, it is about the way, even in a national crisis, the authorities still have plenty of time for the worst kind of bureaucratic foolishness.
We are blessed on this island with breathtakingly beautiful coastal mountains, landscapes that lift the heart and cleanse the soul. But if you walk across these mountains or even look at them from the road, from the Blue Stacks in Donegal, through the Burren and all the way round to west Cork, you will see an inexplicable but apparently implacable blight. Thousands of feet up, where there is nothing else but bare rock and thin soil and harsh scrub, there are now miles of ugly high tensile wire. Over the past few years, the hills have been alive with the sound of sledge hammers driving in fence posts and horny-handed men stringing barbed wire between them.
Why could this be? I have to admit that when I’ve come across these monstrous constructions in the Burren, I’ve assumed them to be the result of the great Irish land madness: farmers saying “I’m going to stake out my personal territory even if it’s on the top of a windblown hill where, at best, a few sheep may graze.”
But I’ve been wrong. The strange truth is that farmers don’t want to do any of this. They’re being forced to do it by the authorities. Hard as it may be to credit, the State is forcing small hill farmers to use money they can ill afford just to make some of Ireland’s most beautiful places ugly. But this is not even the wackiest aspect of the story, for now the State has decided to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise the erection of these fences.
The problem lies with two of the terms and conditions for the single farm payment that comes from the EU and that forms the basic income of almost all small farmers. They read as follows: “There must be appropriate fencing for the farming enterprise. Appropriate fencing means stockproof fencing that will control the applicant’s animals and also the neighbouring farmer’s animals. In mountain/hill areas this generally means sheep fencing,” and “There must be defined external boundaries except in the case of commonage.”

Sensible proposition
You can see that this starts out as a perfectly sensible proposition: a farm should have properly defined and fenced boundaries. But when the farm is a hill farm that includes high areas of natural wildness and beauty where the only farming activity is the grazing of a few hardy sheep or (in the case of the Burren) cattle, the sensible proposition becomes the height of folly.


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Summit Comment
Stockeen Cliff Top: Coastal Hill
sandman a day ago.
Located adjacent to the cliff walk accessible via the Cliffs of Moher Center. Best to enjoy the full walk rather than just summit bagging but for your added enjoyment the earlier in the morning yo...

  
Summit Comment
Lislorkan Top: Coastal Hill
sandman a day ago.
Accessible via the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center and car park or via other locations on this coastal walk of your choosing. Best to enjoy the full length of this fantastic cliff walk.

  
Summit Comment
Knockardakin: Coastal Hill
sandman 2 days ago.
Located adjacent to the world renowned Cliffs of Moher,and although this is the hill which the visitor center is built into, the summit is not located in a public area. Access is via a farm gate o...

Summit Comment
Corduff: My wee dander to the summit
Ulsterpooka 3 days ago.
I followed Muschi's and Paddyhilksbagger route. When going to the trig I moved on a few cows before I walked to the trig. After taking a few pics I seen the large brown bull in the field was block...

  
Track
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simon3 5 days ago.
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Track
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Peter Walker 6 days ago.
Cruach Eoghanach is a handy outing on the days when you get out of the car, feel the force of the wind and rain, look... walk, Len: 10.4km, Climb: 329m, Area: Cruach Eoghanach, S Donegal/W Tyrone (Ir

Summit Summary
Slieve Main: Inishowen's second mountain.
Collaborative entry Last edit by: simon3 5 days ago.
Parking in a small quarry 3km to the east at point C444 372, cross the smaller top of Damph and then head north, curving around the valley until you cross a fence at C425 380 then begin to ascend ...

  
Forum: Suggestions
Clare Coastal Hills
simon3 3 days ago.
We have added 14 Coastal Hills for Clare today. Intriguing names like Stockeen Cliff Top, 185mJust to remind. A Coastal Hill is a hill of at least 50m with a drop from the top or prominence of 20m...

  
Track
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GSheehy 3 days ago.
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Track
Pics de Batoua
David-Guenot a week ago.
walk, Len: 18.3km, Climb: 1672m, Area: France, Occitanie ()

  
Summit Comment
Castlemahon Mountain: My outing to Castlemahon summit.
Ulsterpooka a week ago.
I followed Peter Walkers route and asked permission to walk to the summit mast. The person was very friendly and accommodating. I parked at the last house in what is a four house dwelling lane. Th...

  
Track
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Onzy a week ago.
walk, Len: 3.5km, Climb: 12m, Area: Italy, Campania ()


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