The unique farming practice of Winterage in the Burren has been officially included in the list of permanent National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, recently launched by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan TD. This measure represents official State recognition of cultural practices all around Ireland and will serve to protect and promote these practices for generations to come.
30 elements of living Irish culture were given official recognition at the event which took place at Waterways Ireland on Thursday, 18th July 2019. Some of the traditions included are Uilleann Piping, Hurling, Irish Harping and Sea Currach Making.
Winterage is a farming practice unique to the Burren, where farmers bring their cattle to the hills and high grounds during the winter and down to the lowlands in summer, in the reverse of what happens elsewhere. The limestone in the landscape acts as massive storage heater that keeps cattle warm and dry in the winter as well as providing plenty of water and nutrient-rich grazing. This practice in turn ensures that each spring, with the rough grasses grazed out, Burren’s incredible diversity of flora and fauna can come back to life and thrive.
Dr. Brendan Dunford, Manager, Burren Programme in relation said, “This is a welcome acknowledgement of the importance of the farming community and their traditions in a landscape renowned for its geology, archaeology and ecology. It’s a lovely way to honour the past generations of farmers who devised these innovative practices in response to the constraints imposed by the Burren’s rocky terrain, while it’s also an encouraging message to current and future generations of farmers that we, as a society, value and appreciate them and their unique traditions which sustain this magnificent landscape”.
Each year, on the October bank holiday, the farming families in the Burren along with the local community celebrate this tradition of Winterage through farm walks, talks, workshops, food fayre and farm marts. With the new state recognition as Ireland’s Intangible Heritage they will have yet another reason to celebrate.
The programme for the Winterage Weekend this year due to take place in Lisdoonvarna and Doolin on the October bank holiday (24th – 27th Oct) is being finalised at present. For further information visit www.burrenwinterage.com
(In the photograph: Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan TD with Burren farmers Michael Davoren and John Marrinan.)