Mountmellick flooding causes hardship for farmers

Last week’s catastrophic flash flooding in Mountmellick, Co. Laois, forced a number of residents to evacuate their homes. It also caused hardship for some local farmers, and their animals.

Three rivers flooded the Laois town; following torrential rain on Wednesday last (November 22), quickly causing mayhem. This was followed on Friday (November 24), by the River Barrow bursting its banks in Portarlington.

Mountmellick dairy farmer, Bernard Rochford, shared footage of flooding on his farm; which left more than 60 yearlings stuck in a field, with no way of getting to them.

Meanwhile, a concerned resident, Laura Murphy, posted photos on Facebook to highlight the plight of horses stranded in water, for an extended period.

Henry Burns, from Drinagh who farms 300ac of owned and leased land, moved cattle away from his farm the day before the floods hit. Fortunately, he was able to move them back to the farm after the deluge.

“They were the right side of the river. I also have sheep and they were on higher ground which was a great relief,” he said.

Although we are surrounded by rivers, on quite flat, and low-lying land; nobody expected such flooding. I was in the river on Tuesday doing a bit of fencing; and you could walk in the river that day.

“It was very concentrated rain; the land was seriously wet before this happened. There was 4ft of water in some of our fields; and 1ft of water in some of the cattle sheds – our newer sheds are built on higher ground.

“I saw silage bales floating out of fields. The only good thing was that this happened during daylight; but, the flooding did go into unexpected areas,” he said.

Being on a fragmented farm and dealing with floods involves a lot of “movement and juggling”, he explained.

“The last time I saw flooding like this here was in 1990; before that there was bad flooding in 1968. We got off lightly as 40 people are out of their houses – including some of my neighbours,” he said.

Francis Gorman, chairman of the Laois Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) branch, called for river remedial works.

He called for funds, which he claims have already been approved, to be expedited to the midland town.

“The flooding in Mountmellick emphasises the importance of carrying out remedial works on all rivers and streams in the county, on an ongoing basis, he said.