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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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Track
Exploration of Wicklow Head from the north.
simon3 22 hours ago.
As you will immediately see from the track this was an exploration of what is possible thoroughly exploring various d... walk, Len: 6.6km, Climb: 126m, Area: Brides Hill, Wicklow Coastal Hill (Irelan

  
Summit Comment
Ballyguile Hill: Viewed from the south. Hope you like masts.
simon3 a day ago.
Ballyguile Hill can also be seen well from the south. Here's a view taken from near Brides Hill (a coastal hill near Wicklow Head)

  
Summit Comment
The Eagles Rock: A short but sweet scramble
IainT 2 days ago.
One of the few Irish summits that needs the use of hands by the easiest route. Those happy with exposure can get a good airy scramble (grade 2, pushing 3 maybe), by slanting left up an obvious ram...

Summit Comment
Slieve Foye: Irish Gabbro!
IainT 2 days ago.
Gabbro is one of the roughest and most frictiony rocks around and is superb for scrambling on, as all visitors to the Skye Cuiilin across the water know. I never realised until yesterday that Slie...

  
Track
Pic du Canigou
David-Guenot 2 days ago.
Ascending Catalogna's sacred mountain from the hamlet of Los Masos de Vallmanya, on well-marked trails, with two breaks walk, Len: 24.8km, Climb: 1853m, Area: France, Occitanie ()

  
Summit Comment
Clermont Carn: Easy but a great view.
IainT 2 days ago.
If you drive up the road this has to be a contender for the easiest summit in Ireland, but it's well worth doing for the superb view. Wicklow to Donegal, with the Meath lowlands spread out like a ...

Track
Ramble on Ireland's Eye
wicklore 3 days ago.
A short walk on Ireland's Eye in September 2015. Original plan to visit earlier in the summer was thwarted by a huge f... walk, Len: 2.6km, Climb: 80m, Area: Ireland's Eye, Dublin Islands (Ireland) I

  
Summit Comment
Seanadh Bhéara: Access
sandman 4 days ago.
To answer the query raised by TommyV for at the time to facilitate parking on a narrow road and not wishing to park on the N59 i parked beside the farm yard with a view to access the hill via the ...

  
Forum: General
Windphone project destroyed
wicklore 3 days ago.
The Wind Phone art project in the Dublin Mountains has been destroyed http://jrnl.ie/3547797 . It appears to be a strong statement by those against the idea

Summit Comment
Ireland's Eye: Screams were heard, getting fainter and fainter…
wicklore 4 days ago.
Ireland's Eye is situated about 1.5kms north of Howth Harbour. In Celtic times it was called Eria’s Island and then Erin’s Island. The Norse called it Erin’s Ey and this became Ireland’s Eye. (Ey ...

  
Track
Pic de Cagire Loop
David-Guenot 4 days ago.
A great loop walk in one of my favourite areas in the Pyrenees, which should have hardly taken more than 4h30 hadn't I m walk, Len: 11.8km, Climb: 892m, Area: France, Occitanie ()

  
Summit Summary
Carhoo Hill: Dingle Eask Tower
Collaborative entry Last edit by: aidand 4 days ago.
This is a modest climb, but with wonderful views. Take the road out of Dingle towards Ventry. After about a mile turn left at a sign marked 'Hanlon's handbags'. There is a parking area with a hut ...


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