'Goatscapers' hired to help keep grass short at Cork graveyard

An old Cork graveyard is getting a novel makeover job with four goats being 'hired' for the summer to eat overgrowth around headstones and boulders in one of the first initiatives of its kind in the country.
'Goatscapers' hired to help keep grass short at Cork graveyard

An old Cork graveyard is getting a novel makeover job with four goats being 'hired' for the summer to eat overgrowth around headstones and boulders in one of the first initiatives of its kind in the country.

Fianna Fáil councillor Audrey Buckley says she first saw the potential for "goatscaping" when she was on a trip to Swansea, Mumbles, and the Gower in Wales.

She came across goats and sheep doing a great job on keeping walking paths clear for tourists courtesy of their healthy appetites for local vegetation.

Such landscaping, she says, is far more environmentally efficient than attacking areas with strimmers and tools. It is also more suitable for places such as old graveyards which have delicate headstones.

Audrey says the goatscaping has caused quite a stir since it started at St Matthew's graveyard in Crosshaven last week.

Local children are turning up with their parents to catch a glimpse of the goats at work.

Audrey says initially the goats had a bit of lockdown laziness and weren't carrying out their duties.

We only had two at the start. Harris and Oscar were just chilling out and not doing much because everyone was bringing apples to them.

Norah de Bara from Castletownbere (the lady they sourced the goats from) managed to catch two wild goats from Hungry Hill. It took her nearly a week to catch them.

"So now we have the other two and you can see the impact the four of them are having on the area. We will have them until September/October because it is rutting season and they will have to go back to their lassies down in Castletownbere then!"

The goatscaping is being run by volunteers involved in the Templebreedy Save our Steeple campaign in Crosshaven.

Templebreedy Church dates back to 1788 and a conservation project has been ongoing for some time.

Cork County Council has donated temporary fencing to keep the goats inside the graveyard. It will be moved weekly as the work progresses.

Audrey says that local volunteers have come together to tackle the overgrowth in the area.

She says if the graveyard goat intiative works well this summer they hope to have them back to complete the work and to tackle further afield.

"There is no way the graveyard will be done by September because its a couple of acres. I would love to see the back of the cemetery where the Hayes family of Crosshaven House are buried. Because that whole area hasn't been seen. It is full of brambles.

We would like to get a vision of what is there underneath. We are hoping to have the goats back in March or April of next year (for further work.)

Meanwhile, young children have been coming up to feed the goats apples. However, the group are now asking the youngsters to bring up their gloves and secateurs and cut brambles and ivy for the goats to eat.

Audrey says she is really heartened by the community element of the goatscaping with everyone pitching in to help.

"People are ringing to say that the goats are fine that they were up there and so on. That they have giving them water.

A local farmer, Dave Walsh, collected the goats for us when we rented them and he checks them for us.

This is a real community story. It wouldn't work unless it was a community event. The community are watching them."

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