RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 3

Does the country pub have a future in Ireland?
As the proposed new blood alcohol laws further threaten the survival of the rural pub, Darragh explores both the drink driving issue, and the question of rural isolation.

The Thatch pub, under the Vee in the Knockmealdown Mountains, has been renowned in the area for the past 250 years. But in November last year its elderly relatives decided to close it down, leaving the locals with nowhere to go for a pint and a chat. In March, a young farming couple, the Murphy’s took over the lease of the pub and reopened the doors. Since they reopened, the crowds came back in their droves. But will the proposed changes to the blood alcohol limit change all this? Will the farmers again lose their only social outlet?

Has the €2bn spend on the Rural Environment Protection Scheme been a waste?
Since REPS was introduced in 1994, have wildlife habitats grown and biodiversity increased? Or was REPS just a Green Dole to keep farmers farming?

The Rural Environment Protection Scheme was set up in 1994 to encourage farmers to farm more environmentally friendly, and now 50% of agricultural land is farmed under REPS guidelines. But, on the 9th of July this year the Government made the shock announcement that it was closing the scheme to new entrants, another impact of recession cutbacks. Now that the scheme has closed will this mean a return to less than ideal farming practices?

Ella McSweeney investigates. She questions the environmental and economic impact of this scheme, meeting Anthony Mooney, a Kildare farmer who has been farming by REPS guidelines since its inception in 1994.


Can rural farmhouses save a struggling tourism industry?
This summer, the tourist industry was in crisis, with the numbers of overseas visitors to Ireland plummeting. But could farmhouse B&Bs play a key role in getting the economy back on its feet? 

Helen Carroll visits Killiane House, a farmhouse B&B in Co. Wexford that has been prospering despite the downturn. Throughout the boom we witnessed an excess of cheap hotels thrown up for the wrong reasons. Helen sees how these farmhouses are providing an alternative to this, drawing in visitors with an authentic experience of rural farm life. Looking at the viability of these farming guesthouses, Helen questions, what is the future for rural tourism in Ireland?


Killiane Castle Farmhouse
Tel:        053 9158885
Fax:       053 9158885
Web:    www.killianecastle.com