Farmers on Dursey Island in far west County Cork could be forced to sell rather than face the prospect of their livestock starving to death over the winter months due to lack of access.
The island’s cable car connection to the mainland has been out of service since April for repairs and was expected to start operating again in November. Cork County Council, which is overseeing the repair work, now says the cable car will not resume service until Easter 2023 due to unforeseen but essential cable replacement work.
Island builder Joseph Sullivan said the further delay in cable car repairs could not have come at a worse time.
“We have all been betting on it going back up in November or December but now we are facing the most critical time of the year and we are unable to set foot on the island. If I can’t feed my livestock well, your only option is to give it up altogether,” he said.
A Cork County Council spokesman said: “Once the cable car infrastructure was dismantled, the suspension cables supporting the mechanism underwent a magnetic resonance test which indicated internal damage to the cable.
“Since it was not possible to source new cable from suppliers, the steel cable has to be manufactured to the required specifications. This component of the ropeway infrastructure has been ordered and is scheduled for delivery and installation in March 2023.
“Cable car operations are regulated by the Commission for Railways Regulation and require a statutory inspection and permit before operations can resume. The estimated time for this resumption of service is April 2023.”
There is now a ferry service three days a week, but due to Dursey’s exposed Atlantic location, the island is often not accessible by boat for long periods during the winter months.
Mr Sullivan said: “Before the cable car, in the days of my parents and grandparents, they stocked up on all the supplies they could before Christmas because it might be late February before you could safely get back to the mainland, that’s what.” we do talk here.”
Local independent TD Michael Collins has called for a helicopter service to be set up to help islanders. He recently told the Dáil: “I have been speaking to the islanders and landowners there over the past week. They haven’t come on or off the island for almost two weeks. The temporary ferry service could not operate due to the bad weather, so the island could not be reached. It’s an emergency.
“Helicopter service needs to be set up immediately for the people of Dursey Island so people can get food and come to the island to feed their livestock, as well as a derrick on the mainland which the islanders said would also help She.”
Mr Sullivan added: “We were left high and dry. I look away maybe 30% or more of my income which is huge for me. When faced with the prospect of losing six or eight calves and two or three heifers, what do you do? We have a new baby and Christmas is just around the corner too and we have to make some very difficult decisions.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/farmers-contemplate-abandoning-dursey-island-42222578.html Farmers consider abandoning Dursey Island