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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Agri-tourism offers an opportunity to create supplementary income’

Farmers, food producers and artisans, which are part of the Burren Ecotourism Network, are reaping the benefits of agri-tourism initiatives this summer.

According to Jarlath O’Dwyer, CEO of the Burren Ecotourism Network, experiences such as food trails, foraging walks, food visitor experiences and farm stays have become popular.

“For farmers, agri-tourism offers an opportunity to diversify and create supplementary income.”

“Many enjoy the social aspect of meeting people and sharing their special stories about the region’s food, agriculture, and biodiversity.”

“For visitors, it allows them to connect with the land, the people, the animals and learn more about where their food comes from while enjoying the beautiful landscapes of the Burren.

“There is no better place for visitors to learn about the region than from those who have farmed the land for generations,” he added.

The Burren Ecotourism Network has a wide variety of farming businesses in the group. They all focus on sustainable tourism and comply with the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark Code of Sustainable Practice.

Burren Ecotourism Network

These include:

  • Caherconnell Stone Fort – a Burren upland farming family with sheepdog demonstrations, an ancient stone fort, café and visitor centre.
  • Linnalla Ice Cream – dairy farmers who have diversified producing ice cream and opened a cafe
  • Burren Distillers – whiskey produced using locally harvested wheat
  • Flaggy Shore Oysters – a marine biologist offering oyster shucking tours and selling shellfish
  • Burren Farm Experience – Beef farm offering food trails, camping and events
  • Vaughans Pub Kilfenora – local family who held the local sheep mart for decades, converting the site into accommodation
  • Burren Free Range Pork and Glamping – farm offering accommodation and pork for sale
  • Moher Cottage – gift and coffee shop located on a working farm
  • Marie McGauran – walking guide from a farming family who have diversified onto giving guided tours on the lands of their ancestors
  • Burren Fine Wine and Food – farming family offering summer lunches, afternoon tea, eco walks and cycles in the Burren
  • Hotel Doolin – growing their own salads and sourcing 70% food from a 30-mile radius
  • St Tola Goats Cheese – Goat farm and cheese producer
  • The Market House – Farmers and master butchers

 Burren food story

One of the success stories for the region has been the development of the Burren food story.

This has seen groups of producers, farmers and chefs come together to organise trails and events to highlight the rich history of food production in the area, dating back to the 12th century and the Cisterian Monks at Corcomroe Abbey.

“We are fortunate to have that rich food story here already, with such a huge variety of producers and top-quality restaurants, which has inspired us to develop the Burren food trail and events such as the Burren Slow Food Fayre and Burren Slow Food Festival.”

This year, the Burren Food Fayre will take place on the October Bank Holiday Weekend for the tenth year in succession.

It coincides with Burren Beo’s Burren Winterage Festival. This celebrates the ancient custom of out-wintering cattle on the upland areas of the Burren.

Birgitta Curtin, the chairperson of the Burren Food Trail, added:

“These events, organised in conjunction with the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, have resulted in bringing more tourists to the area in previous years as visitors tend to make a weekend of it.”

Recently, the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark joined the UNESCO ‘Geofood’ brand, promoting sustainable agriculture and conservation and supporting farmers and communities in the area.

Geofood’ quality label

Carol Gleeson, manager of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, said:

“UNESCO Global Geoparks are not only about geology; they are very much about how geology shapes landscapes, communities and culture, and how these can be conserved and sustained.”

Furthermore, UNESCO Global Geoparks have developed a ‘Geofood’ quality label with a clear philosophy.

That is to support the sustainable development of local communities by promoting locally produced food of the highest quality. ‘Geofood’ can only be used in UNESCO Global Geoparks designated areas.

The brand:

  • Emphasises the connection between local food and local geology;
  • Protects biodiversity;
  • Promotes sustainable food production, responsible use of water and waste recycling, seasonality;
  • Reduces food miles;
  • Increases local economic impacts.

“These actions work towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

The DAFM funds agri-tourism initiatives in the Burren under the 2021 Rural Innovation Development Fund.

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