The celebration of ‘Winterage’, or the ancient and unique farming practice of out-wintering cattle in the Burren, is at the heart of the annual Burren Winterage Weekend festival.
This year’s festival will run from October 26th, 2022 and 30th in Corofin, Co. Clare and various locations across the Burren region.
Co-ordinated by local landscape charity, The Burrenbeo Trust, this year’s festival features a “wide” range of farming, heritage, and cultural events.
- Several Burren farm walks;
- A tea talk on farming and archaeology;
- A day-long Burren Winterage School on the theme of education for sustainable development in rural areas;
- Farming for Nature Networking Day and National Farming for Nature Awards;
- Book reading and discussions with bestselling authors, James Rebanks and Jane Clarke;
- Transhumance cheese tasting;
- A butter-making workshop;
- Children’s creative nature-writing workshop.
Community Cattle Drive
The flagship event of weekend, the Community Cattle Drive, where hundreds of people join a local farming family in herding their cattle to the upland winterage pastures, will take place on Sunday, October 30th, 2022.
It is thought that Burren farmers initially adopted this practice in response to the shortage of water in summertime.
They found that the warmth of the limestone and the “ample” grazing on the rocky winter pastures made it an ideal low-cost ‘outwintering’ environment for stock.
Organisers have confirmed that Burren Food Fayre will join this year’s drive. The Burren Food Fayre, organised by the Burren Eco-tourism Network, will offer a chance to all attendees to “taste the Burren” through food samplings from local food producers.
Brendan Dunford, manager at the Burren Programme and one of the event organisers, said, the winterage festival is “as good as it gets in terms of an authentic, intimate” celebration of our farming heritage in Ireland.
“At its core is the ancient practice of ‘transhumance’ – the seasonal movement of livestock – whereby Burren farmers sustain an ancient tradition that is also key to conserving the region’s famous flora and fauna.”
“Transhumance is practiced all over the world. The cattle drove is a nice way to connect with rural cultures and landscapes everywhere.”
“Lastly, we are delighted this year to welcome farmers, scientists and policymakers from all over Europe to join us in this festival of learning and celebration, in particular, our ‘farming for nature’ ambassadors from Ireland, Lithuania and Austria.”
Places are limited for all events – you must pre-book. More information is on the festival’s website.