Landless families face eviction from land they have grazed for over 40 years

Three families with virtually no land of their own face eviction from a ‘cowpark’ which they have grazed for over 40 years.

It is understood that the Smith family have been tenants constantly since the cowpark was opened, while the Glennon and Harte families have grazed the lands since the late 1970s.

These families own 2ac max and fulfil the criteria for cowpark applicants, according to a post on the Save Our Cowpark Facebook page.

A total of 38ac of land in the Edmonton/Killynon area is at the centre of a disagreement between the farmers and Westmeath County Council, who they are renting the land from.

Having rumbled on for a number of years, the dispute is currently being heard in Athlone Circuit Court. The council have been trying to evict the farmers from the land.

According to RTE News, Westmeath County Council have claimed that the farmers have no further legal standing on the land – a fact which the farmers in question refute.

Originally, cowparks were set up to provide local landless people and farm labourers with land to graze their cattle on, as they were not given Land Commission farms.

Tenants of the cowpark in question pay for grazing on a per head basis for a six-month period and they renew this agreement every six months – which works out as summer (May-October) and winter (November-April) payments.

The ‘Save Our Cowpark’ group claims that there would only be a few cattle on the lands in the winter. The tenants graze between four and six suckler cows each, along with their calves; the calves are then sold as weanlings.

This saga relating to this particular cowpark reportedly dates back to 2013, when the council asked the farmers to remove cattle from the land so it could be leased, the group added.

Both the farmers and the council have been at loggerheads ever since. The case is continuing this afternoon.