From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Mayo News 9 June 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
12, Jun 2004 - 09:43

Blue Flag losses

THE tourism industry in Mayo has taken a hit this week with the announcement that three of the county’s top beaches have lost their blue flag status. The secluded Keem beach in Achill, Louisburgh’s famed surfing spot, Carramore beach and Belmullet’s Mullaghroe beach have all been downgraded because of deteriorated water quality. Mayo retained its ten other blue flags at beaches around the county and has the third highest number of blue flags in the country, after Kerry and Donegal. Keem Bay failed to meet the basic standards for "faecal coliforms" in the water, while Carramore and Mullaghroe Beach failed to meet "guide values" on total coliforms (bacteria from which swimmers run the risk of contracting gastroenteritis and respiratory diseases.) The water quality results were based on samples taken last summer.

Two words: sheep overgrazing! The fact that Mayo County Councillors actually suspended standing orders in order to push for an increase in the number of sheep. They wanted places that were being destocked due to the severe damage that overstocking had done. Now that the chickens are coming home to roost folks! We were alerted to the sheep overgrazing problem at Keem when a road was washed away by a landslide a number of years back. The response of the councillors was to support the sheep farmers and ask for more not less sheep!!

Pollathomas awaits

FARMERS in Pullathomas, North Mayo, have been left high and dry following an announcement three months ago that a 100,000 euro aid package was being made available by the Department of Agriculture for farmers affected by the landslides last September. It has now transpired that no payments have yet been made. Nor have the farmers received application forms for the relief funding. The Chairman of the Dooncarton Landslide Com-mittee, Gerard McDonnell, has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh to make the relief payments immediately, saying that the farmers in the area had suffered enough for the last nine months. The situation has been described as "a scandal" by Chairman of Mayo IFA, Michael Biggins, who said that the IFA fought long and hard with the Department to get the relief package for farmers who suffered livestock losses, land damage and damage to fencing and buildings in the landslides.

An unrelated story about landslides, farmers and sheep? Will people join up the dots between the two? In one case just a link between a bit of road washed away in a landslide due to sheep overgrazing and a blue flag beach gone west due to sheep excrement washing off an overgrazed hillside. In the other people almost killed in a massive landslide which caused major inconvenience to the people of Pollathomas. The landslide was due to the sparse vegetation on top splitting open and allowing heavy rain to get in beneath. It's a good thing to have a thick covering of heather and other vegetation on the mountains to help maintain the stability of our hillsides. But sheep eat lots of heather - and it's quite a rare sight now on Mayo hillsides.

Radon alert

CALLS have been made across the county for government grant aid to be made available to fund radon testing in homes. In a national survey conducted by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland between 1992 and 1999 "high radon areas" were identified in Ballina, Killala, Claremorris, Swinford, Ballinrobe and Ballycastle.

And another environmental story in the Mayo News. It’s a good idea to have your home tested for radon. You could be waiting for grant aid to come - but for the price of a night out you can check whether you are living in a radon trap or not. With double glazing and reduced air circulation radon build up can occur even in modern houses.

© Copyright 2004 by Castlebar - County Mayo -