City farmers affected by increased recreational use of Dublin Mountains

Increased recreational use of the Dublin Mountains is impacting on some city farmers, who are facing issues such as sheep worrying.

Terry Murphy who farms at Bohernabreena, with a total of 60ac between owned and rented land, with grazing rights on the Dublin mountains, said the number of people letting dogs loose in the Dublin mountains is creating difficulty.

Murphy, a sheep and suckler farmer who works full-time as an electrician, spoke on the matter, saying: “Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, sheep get chased – guaranteed. The dog owners can get so aggressive when confronted.

They think they have a God-given right to go up the Dublin mountains and let their dogs loose. Only last week, Gardai were called in a case where sheep were chased, and one was badly injured.

Hundreds of cyclists also make their way up the mountains every weekend, according to Murphy. All the increased activity is making it very difficult to keep animals settled when they are on the move, he said.

“There is a good community of farmers in Bohernabreena, but a lot have given up on the hills. They can’t keep stock up there because so many people are using the area as a recreation space,” he said.

“Four roads lead to the Dublin mountains, and we have been trying to get cattle grids on all of them.

“South Dublin county councillors are behind the idea, but the council itself is not, because it believes they could create problems for cyclists. Yet grids are in other parts of the country, such as the Curragh, Mount Leinster, the Cooley Mountains,” Murphy said.

The IFA and the Uplands Council have also been supportive to city farmers’ concerns, he said. “Years ago, there were gates on the roads but the council did away with them.”

The ever-increasing recreation traffic in this high-amenity area, and the lack of consultation with farmers, is leaving farmers feeling worried and frustrated, according to Murphy.

Full-time city farmer, Aengus Cullen, of Ballymana Lane, just five minutes’ drive from Tallaght, said that recreational users have also affected him.

The sheep and cattle farmer, who also does contracting work, said problems are caused by gates being left open and dogs worrying sheep.

“The Wicklow Way walk runs beside us, and people have ended up on our farm. We have had a good bit of sheep worrying, and we have suckler cows calving nine months of the year. Dogs are also causing problems around them,” said Cullen.

“I have responded to the problem by upgrading our fencing, but the whole issue, and its implications, is a big concern. I have signs up, and I have raised these matters with the council, but the problem is ongoing. Lampers out at night are also a big problem,” he said.

“The Gardai are very proactive, but they are limited in what they can do,” Cullen said.