RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 12

The Ear to the Ground Team

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Daragh explores how Ireland has become Europe's main puppy provider, Helen meets a family mixing opera with farming and Ella investigates the imapct new motorways have on farmland

Puppy Farming
The ISPCA has described Ireland as the "puppy farming capital of Europe". So how did we become one of Europe's main puppy providers?
Darragh McCullough investigates this billion-euro industry, where thousands of puppies are exported every year. He visits three puppy breeders, to find out just where these puppies come from, and the conditions that they are bred in. He also speaks to the DSPCA who express serious concerns about breeding dogs in what remains a very unregulated industry.

Trading Operatic for Farming

An Operatic Farming family raising the rafters the Rafter Family are one of the most exciting acts to emerge on the Irish music scene today. The father, Paddy Rafter, is a born tenor. He started in opera at the age of 18 and now regularly flies to Milan to train with one of the world's most famous voice coaches - Placido Dominigo in La Scala. The family recently released their first self-titled CD and have been winning standing ovations since their stage debut at the National Concert Hall in September 2009.

But after the singing is over, the Rafters trade their tuxedos for their wellies to muck out stables on their farm in Co. Kilkenny. Visiting their home in Three Castles, Helen Carroll finds out just how this multi-talented family manage to combine farm life with a successful music career.

The Road

While the many new motorways opening this year will speed up our journeys, they can have a destructive impact on the farmland they cut through. Ella McSweeney investigates what problems are caused when motorways and farms collide?

Ella meets Fran Allen, a dairy farmer in Kildare, who had his farm divided by the M9 motorway. Now Fran is forced to cross his cattle across a dangerous slip road. Already cars have had to swerve into the other side of the road to avoid hitting the cars already stopped waiting for the cows to cross. Fran believes that an underpass is the only solution to ensure the safety of his cows.