Poison weed is having a field day

THISTLE, ragwort and dock — noxious weeds according to the old posters which pointed out that all landowners on whose lands they were ‘in evidence’ were liable to prosecution.

These posters were displayed in many Garda stations decades ago. I recall gardaí in the Whitechurch/Rathduff area near Cork city cycling out to warn farmers about the concentration of these weeds, particularly ragwort — the yellow one.

On many farms (including our own) we had either to cut or pull them by hand or, if the concentration was very dense, cut them with a horse-drawn mower before they were collected and burned.

While in those times farming was not as intensive as today, it is surprising nonetheless that despite all the aids and chemicals available now, we still have bumper crops of these weeds.

Ragwort is the most noticeable because of its colour. Just now, Cork city is surrounded by fields completely covered with it.

Some areas resemble the lands between Ronda and Seville in Andalucia when the sunflowers are in full bloom.

Is the old law still in force? If so, is it being implemented, and by whom? I cannot recall reading or hearing about any prosecutions in recent times.

The causes of the current infestation may include:

1. ‘Set-aside’ land being totally discarded, as per EU law.

2. Builders/developers leaving land idle while planning problems are being sorted out. This could take years.

3. City and county council land banks. A perfect example is the field totally covered with weeds, predominantly ragwort, just off the south-west corner of the Poulavone roundabout and which, I understand, is owned by Cork County Council.

It is strange nowadays that not much interest is shown in protecting our environment with emphasis on the food chain and, in this instance, the threat from ragwort to it.

Donal Murphy

Bracken Lodge

Clogheen

Cork

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