The Burren Winterage festival will return for the October bank holiday weekend from Thursday 26 October to Sunday 29 October.

The event, which takes place at Gort, Co Galway, and the Burren is the annual celebration of the Burren’s farming tradition of winter grazing.

It will include a range of cultural and networking events in Gort Town Hall and farm walks at various locations around the Burren.


At the heart of the festival is the centuries-old practice where local farmers move their cattle to higher ground or to the winterages for the winter months.

The Winterage festival is aimed at celebrating farming in the Burren. \ David Ruffles

“It is an inspiring example of sustainable farming - the continuation of which is also vital to the protection of the Burren’s renowned biodiversity and archaeological heritage,” a spokesperson said.

Co-ordinated by local landscape charity the Burrenbeo Trust, this year’s festival features a tea talk on ‘An introduction to the Burren’s rich transhumance heritage’, Burren Winterage School on the theme of 'Farming and fire’, a ‘Hare’s corner conversations’ event for landowners who wish to take actions for biodiversity, the annual national ‘Farming for nature’ gathering and awards, and a ‘Winterage session’ of poetry, music and storytelling celebrating our farming heritage.

Of interest to those with young families, a mock archaeological excavation will be run for children who wish to learn about digging for and recording artefacts on Saturday 28 October in Coole Park.

There will also be a Samhain Púca storytelling festival at the Michael Cusack Centre on Sunday 29 October.

Cattle drive

The flagship event of the weekend, the community cattle drive, where hundreds of people are invited to join a local farming family herding their cattle to the upland winterage pastures, will take place on Sunday 29 October in partnership with the Burren Food Fayre.

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 some of the best of local food producers before and after their walk.

A free online event on Wednesday 25 October is also on offer in the form of a talk by University College Cork lecturer Eugene Costello on the history of livestock grazing in uplands in Ireland and how it has brought about changes to habitats over time.


Burrenbeo Trust co-ordinator Áine Bird said the Winterage weekend is a “celebration of our agricultural heritage and the dedicated farmers who uphold these traditions in the present day”.

“It provides an excellent opportunity for the entire community to come together and gain insight into the importance of farming in our region. Additionally, it allows people to consider potential steps they can take to preserve this heritage,” she said.

The Burren cattle drive.

The Burren Winterage weekend and school is supported by the Department of Agriculture and the Heritage Council and the Winterage cattle drive is supported by FBD Insurance.

Places are limited for all events and will require pre-booking. Discounts apply for Burrenbeo members. More information is available here.