RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 15

Ear to the Ground

RURAL GAA CLUBS UNDER THREAT
Despite some signs of recovery, young people are deserting rural Ireland in their droves. This exodus from the nations parishes has had quite the impact on communities and GAA clubs in particular. Helen Carroll meets Tipperary hurler Kieran Bergin who returned to Ireland from America last year to work on the family farm. His siblings and friends are scattered all over the globe. Rural GAA clubs have lost so many members to emigration that many of them are struggling to fill teams. The consequence of rural depopulation for some clubs may be amalgamation with local rivals; a prospect not welcomed by anybody. Rather than being disheartened, Helen sees the dedication and determination at grassroots level to save local clubs.

THE SMALLEST COW IN THE WORLD
Ella McSweeney meets the worlds' smallest cow. At just 30 inches tall, this dexter cow is small even by the diminutive standards of her breed. She gave birth to a regular-sized dexter calf last year and within weeks, her calf needed to crouch down to suckle! Dexters are just one of a number of Irish rare breeds some farmers are working hard to preserve.

At a veritable Noah's Ark on a farm in Westmeath, Ella witnesses a gathering of many Irish rare breeds including the Kerry bog pony, the old Irish goat, the Kerry cow, moiled cows, Roscommon sheep and Droimeann cattle and the farmers who are trying to preserve these now-rare animals.

TRACTORS THAT DRIVE THEMSELVES!
Carlow tillage farmer Kevin Nolan has a futuristic farm. But this isn't science fiction; this is a farmer who is, in his own words, "putting the fun back into farming". His self-steer GPS system enables him to use his tractor and combine harvester all through the night. His hi-tech farming gadgets mean he is not tied to daylight hours to work. As a result, his hours are more flexible; he can take his children to school and enjoy more family time. Darragh Mc Cullough travels to a farm machinery show in Cavan to see the other gadgets on offer and sample the mood among farmers coming into the spring.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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