RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 6

Ear to the Ground

Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a stable, a donkey and an infant in a manger. So we've sent Darragh McCullough out with his mobile farm to add some agricultural festive cheer to the annual Christmas Fair in Shankill, Co Dublin. The Mobile Farm, which Darragh operates in conjunction with Agriaware, normally spends its time travelling around to schools showing kids where their food comes from and allowing them to experience farm animals up close. However, this time the Mobile Farm is on a seasonal mission, to bring some farming fare to Shankill's Christmas fair. Started a number of years ago as a completely free family event with food and carol singing, organisers expect to have over 3,500 people attending this year.

Traditionally Christmas is a time for families, but one Co Westmeath couple will be spending this Christmas thousands of miles from family and friends. In March 2011 Padraic and Olivia O'Neill left the green fields of Killucan in Co Westmeath with their baby son Patrick and headed for the dusty plains of the Australian outback where Padraic works as a mechanic in a remote cattle station. For years Irish backpackers have provided a useful top up for seasonal farm labour needs across rural Australia. But now they're needed to fill permanent vacancies, and it seems the more remote the jobs, the more likely they'll be filled by adventurous young Irish men and women. We follow Padraic and Olivia as they leave Ireland and see how they adjust to their first few months of life in Birdsville in the Australian outback.

Connemara Hill Lamb is one of only four Irish food products that has been given a special European rating ranking it up there with brands like Roquefort Cheese and Parma Ham. While gaining this status takes years of hard work, the benefits are worth it, as Ella McSweeney discovers when she visits this group of farmers from all over Connemara whose lamb has received the 'Product of Designated Origin' award. She finds out what makes this lamb so special and asks why a country steeped in a rich food tradition has so few of these designated food ratings when the rest of our European neighbours have hundreds.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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