RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 13

Ear to the Ground

At twelve years old, Declan Cairney has achieved what many only ever aspire to; he is a published author. Dublin born Declan moved to Kinvara, Co. Galway when he was six years old. On a family trip to the Ailwee Caves Birds of Prey Centre, Declan disappeared. When his frantic parents found him, he had sought out James Irons, who runs the centre. Declan was so enthralled by the magnificent birds he had seen that he was trying to persuade James to allow him to volunteer at the centre. As Declan was under sixteen, his father agreed to accompany him as he volunteers and he spends as much time as possible caring for the birds housed at the centre. Last year, Declan decided to write and illustrate a book, "Raptors; A Pocket Guide to Birds of Prey and Owls", sharing all he has learned about the birds he cares for. Helen Carroll travels to the Burren to meet the remarkable Declan and attempt to overcome her own innate terror of birds!

IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY.you're sure to find an argument brewing! Over 1,000 acres of forest near Ballybofey in Donegal have been put on the market by Coillte, valued at ¤4 million. The area is an unemployment blackspot and there is consternation among locals at the sale; they feel that local forest should benefit the community and fear that it wouldn't in the hands of a private owner. Coillte counter that they have bought more land than they have sold over the years and that this is simply a sale like any other. They reject accusations by locals that the sale lacks transparency. Darragh McCullough reports from Donegal.

Ella McSweeney meets the brothers who say constant innovation is the key to their success in what is considered a disadvantaged agricultural region. Derek and Brendan Allen are the third generation of their family to farm their 250 acres on Castlemine Farm in Roscommon, but they are the first generation to harness the power of the Internet and social media. When the recession started to bite in 2008, the brothers decided to return to the farm and expand upon the expertise they had picked up from their father, Sean. A wide range of animals roam their fields including Angus and Hereford cattle, a variety of lamb breeds, and their free-range pig herd boasts heritage breeds like Saddleback, Gloucestershire Old Spots and Tamworths. Initially, they sold their meat and cooked food products directly from the farm but as their popularity has grown they have opened a shop in Roscommon town. They also sell directly online as the buzz about them on the Internet brings them customers from further afield.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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