It’s Thursday and Ear to the Ground time! #ettg

This week’s episode looks at GAA clubs across rural Ireland and the affects of unemployment and emigration. Presenter Ella Mc Sweeney meets the worlds’ smallest cow, who is named after her would you believe, and the team also looks at the benefits of smart farming. 

Do take note, the episode is at an earlier time of 7pm on RTE 1.


Despite some signs of recovery, young people are deserting rural Ireland in their droves. This exodus from the nations parishes has had quite the impact on communities and GAA clubs in particular.

Helen Carroll meets Tipperary hurler Kieran Bergin who returned to Ireland from America last year to work on the family farm. His siblings and friends are scattered all over the globe. Rural GAA clubs have lost so many members to emigration that many of them are struggling to fill teams.

The consequence of rural de-population for some clubs may be amalgamation with local rivals; a prospect not welcomed by anybody. Rather than being disheartened, Helen sees the dedication and determination at grassroots level to save local clubs.


Ella Mc Sweeney meets the worlds’ smallest cow. At just 30 inches tall, this dexter cow is small even by the diminutive standards of her breed. She gave birth to a regular-sized dexter calf last year and within weeks, her calf needed to crouch down to suckle! Dexters are just one of a number of Irish rare breeds some farmers are working hard to preserve.

At a veritable Noah’s Ark on a farm in Westmeath, Ella witnesses a gathering of many Irish rare breeds including the Kerry bog pony, the old Irish goat, the Kerry cow, moiled cows, Roscommon sheep and Droimeann cattle and the farmers who are trying to preserve these now-rare animals.


Carlow tillage farmer Kevin Nolan has a futuristic farm. But this isn’t science fiction; this is a farmer who is, in his own words, “putting the fun back into farming”. His self-steer GPS system enables him to use his tractor and combine harvester all through the night. His hi-tech farming gadgets mean he is not tied to daylight hours to work.

As a result, his hours are more flexible; he can take his children to school and enjoy more family time. Daragh Mc Cullough travels to a farm machinery show in Cavan to see the other gadgets on offer and sample the mood among farmers coming into the spring.

Pictured: Helen Carroll meets Tipperary hurler Kieran Bergin