Resulting from this adoption of AKIS the Caomhnú Árann EIP-AGRI Operational Group Project located on the Aran Islands, Co. Galway hosted a visit from another Operational Group located in another Gaeltacht (irish speaking) area located in northwest Co. Donegal, Cúlra Créafóige. The Cúlra Créafóige project is rehabilitating disused lands, improving biodiversity through regenerative agriculture and encouraging cottage industry by revitalizing local cultivation activities. Small scale tillage is still a feature on Inis Meáin, Aran’s middle island, with crops of potatoes, rye, cabbage, turnips, leeks and onions grown throughout the island every year mainly for domestic use but also for local restaurants and cafes. The island of Inis Meáin was therefore a natural choice to host the project team and farmers participating in the Cúlra Créafóige Operational Group and share information.
During the visit, the Cúlra Créafóige members had a chance to visit the thatched cottage ‘Teach Synge’ during this visit, in which the playwright John Synge stayed during his time on Inis Meáin and had an opportunity to hear from Ciarán Ó Fatharta about rye growing on the island and how it was used to maintain the thatch on the cottage. Later Seán Ó Domhnaill from the Caomhnú Árann project showed the Donegal group the crops grown on his farm, explaining the traditional techniques in both growing and storing the crop.
Whilst Caomhnú Árann host a range of visits each year this was the first time a farming group from another Gaeltacht area have visited, allowing both participating groups to communicate in Irish, which is an added bonus of the EIP-AGRI structure with the range of small community based groups throughout Ireland in Gaeltacht and non-Gaeltacht areas.
Gráinne Ní Chonghaile from the Caomhnú Árann project team, explains that Irish is ‘the first language of participants in the Caomhnú Árann project and that in general the participant farmers have a preference for doing their business through Irish where possible’. She highlighted how important it is that this has been recognised by DAFM and the NRN, in publishing the EIP-AGRI projects booklet through Irish. Grainne added that this booklet is ‘a useful resource for dissemination purposes within the local community, local schools and the wider public’.
‘Ní neart go cur le chéile.’ – There is no strength without unity