Irish language programme Mná na Talún, on TG4, follows four women farmers across the four seasons of a single farming year in a new four-part series.
Úna Ní Bhroin has spent 20 years building up Beechlawn Organic farm in Ballinasloe along with her husband Pádraig; Hannah Doherty is a young, enterprising sheep farmer on the Derry-Donegal border; Bríd Ní hIcí aims to be as self-sufficient as possible – growing vegetables and keeping pigs and goats on her small-holding in Gaoth Dobhair; and Clíona Ní Conghaile raises cattle in the traditional style on the unique landscape of Inis Mór, one of the most important areas of biodiversity in Ireland.
In the first episode at 8.30pm on TG4, November 23, spring is upon the farmers and we meet Úna Ní Bhroin and learn of her commitment to organic farming as an ethical and environmental choice – and the financial difficulties and stress this can create, particularly as a working mum of four children.
Hannah Doherty is in the middle of lambing season, the busiest time of the year for her and husband Tommy.
We witness Hannah handling a difficult birth that thankfully results in a safe delivery and we see her hand feed the safely delivered lamb.
We meet Bríd Ní hIcí gathering seaweed on the beach in Gaoth Dobhair – it’s a natural fertiliser for use in her polytunnel, and reflects her interest in self sufficiency and natural farming methods.
We are also introduced to her small family of animals – her goats and horses, as well as Séamus and Pádraig, two young pigs being reared for their meat
Clíona Ni Chonghaile introduces us to the unique and stunning landscape of Inis Mór on the Árann Islands, and how it supports a particular type of cattle farming not found anywhere else in Ireland.
Clíona’s main concern is that this traditional way of farming is under threat as young people are more reluctant to stay on the island.
n Episode 2 on November 30 focuses on the work taking place on each of the farms during the summer months.
n The third episode on December 7 takes us through the harvest in autumn and the final episode on December 14 sees the farmers prepare for the winter months.
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