Donegal potato grower battles to save his livelihood

A farmer who has battled for days to save his €300,000 potato crop after the Donegal floods is hoping he has done enough to save his livelihood, writes Stephen Maguire.

Seamus Lynch was left devastated when he arrived at his 125 acres of crops at Porthall in Lifford early on Wednesday morning.

A combination of a spring tide and the torrential rain which lashed the north-west left many parts of his lands on the banks of the River Foyle waist-high in water.

Donegal potato grower battles to save his livelihood

The experienced farmer knew there was no time to waste and set about sourcing water pumps to get the water off his land in a bid to save his crops which also included barley and corn.

He erected seven pumps which have been working around the clock to get the water off the land.

A team also dug trenches to allow the water get back into the River Foyle.

Seamus’ future is in the lap of the Gods and he will know in around two weeks’ time if he has managed to save the crop.

The cost could be huge with each of his 65 acres of potatoes worth up to €5,000 an acre, as well as barley and corn worth up to a total crop of almost €500,000.

A frustrated Seamus said: “It’s very much a salvage job, just to see what we can save. We have been pumping out water steady for the past number of days. It’s been a nightmare. We just have to keep sticking with it.

“We will know the full extent of the damage and what we have been able to save in a fortnight’s time,” he said.

Mr Lynch is just one of hundreds of people who have been left affected by the floods which saw a month’s rain fall in just a few hours.

Across the Inishowen peninsula, people are still trying to literally pick up the pieces five days after the event which changed their lives forever.

Bernie Kearney, whose home was struck by a mudslide in Urris, has been forced to board up the home she was so proud of and move in with relatives.

Bernie, who lost her husband James in a freak fishing tragedy 22 years ago, knows she will never get permission to build under the hills which attacked her home on Tuesday evening just after 8.30pm.

Despite this Bernie, who is originally from Gleneely, wants to remain in the community which has welcomed her and which she now calls home.

“Despite all that has happened here I still think I want to live here.

These people have been so good to me and I feel this is where I will always belong.”

As well as householders, sporting and voluntary groups have been left with a huge headache as a result of the flooding, with clubhouses destroyed and equipment ruined.

The council is reminding these organisations that they will be covered by a scheme run by the Irish Red Cross.

“The Irish Red Cross will administer an emergency humanitarian support scheme to assist small businesses, community, voluntary and sporting bodies

affected by the devastating floods in Donegal.

“We expect that details of the scheme will be made available shortly and we will keep you updated,” said a spokesman.

However, communities too are taking a lead role in helping themselves and supporting their neighbours.

Buncrana GAA club yesterday held an open afternoon for anyone affected in any way by the floods.

Trained counsellors, people from the Department of Social Protection, and the Samaritans were on hand to speak about issues while the club also showed the All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Tyrone.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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