RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 13

Darragh McCullough, Helen Carroll and Ella McSweeney

Tuesday 02 February 2010

Darragh meets a farmer saved from hypothermia after being trapped in a boghole on Christmas Eve, Ella attends a point-to-point race and Helen meets a man who has swapped cows for buffalo!

Farmer saved from hypothermia:
This winter has seen the emergency services called out many times with floods, snow and ice adding danger to even the most routine of tasks. Farmers have had to call on air sea rescue numerous times for help with livestock or isolation.

In this episode, Darragh McCullough revisits one daring rescue operation. He meets 78-year-old farmer Gerry Clune from East Clare, who survived sub zero temperatures after becoming trapped in a boghole on Christmas Eve. Gerry owes his life to the Shannon Air Sea rescue team, who discovered him after seven hours spent in a freezing ditch. He also owes a lot to his decision to wear a hi-vis jacket that night, which meant that he was spotted and rescued within minutes of the search helicopter taking off, just as hypothermia was gripping his body.

The point to point race has often been described as the lifeblood of the racing industry in Ireland and many of the top jockeys cut their teeth at these courses around the country. Besides that, these races are the highlight of many farmers' social calendars. With this event comes a pride and passion that touches rural communities throughout the country.

For Dungarvan farmer, John Kiely, the point-to-point has been a lifelong passion. He rode in some of the first point to point races, and now organises the Dungarvan event each year. Ella McSweeney travels to this point to point in Dungarvan to soak up the atmosphere, and to witness all the preparation that goes into this event.

Swapping Cows for Buffalo!
This week, Helen Carroll discovers Buffalo on a farm in North Wales. Twelve years ago, struggling dairy John Hayden, decided to ditch the cows and instead invested in over 300 Asian Water Buffalo. He first tried his hand at making mozzarella, but soon realised that Buffalo meat was much more profitable.

Now, more and more UK farmers have been turning land over to Buffalo for dairy and meat production. The meat is very tender, contains very little fat and has proved to have very low cholesterol content. So, could Buffalo farming provide the answer to struggling dairy farmers in Ireland? Could we soon see herds of Buffalo roaming the Irish countryside?