Farmers in parts of Cork remain without electricity days after Storm Ophelia wreaked havoc.

Many farms in the Donoughmore area of mid-Cork are today in their fifth day coping without power after Monday’s storm.

Pat Buckley spoke to the Irish Farmers Journal on Friday night to describe how he has been coping.

“Liam Buckley milked them once a day from Tuesday and Denis Guiry [Dairygold milk adviser] got me a generator last night so I milked them then and this morning.

“The milk was cooled and all. The driver collecting the milk sampled it and it was ok. The lorry driver had only half a load when he called, because fellas had to dump milk. Normally he’d be nearly full coming here.”

Pat Buckley and his son William in the parlour. \ Tommy Moyles

While the aftermath of Ophelia had significantly increased his workload, Pat was philosophical.

“Look we can’t complain, because we don’t have any control over it. There’s no one hurt around here and that’s the main thing.”

Pat’s neighbour Sean Buckley said people didn’t know where to turn when the power went out.

Pat Buckley watches a generator being wired up for his milking parlour after days without power. \ Tommy Moyles

“We had our own generator here and neighbours came to us to see would we give a hand. There was only so many we could get to and Denis Guiry from Dairygold came on and they brought on generators, which eased the pressure a good bit.”

Unsung hero

Sean's twin brother Liam was described as the unsung hero in their area. Travelling around with their generator, he milked for 11 different farmers on Tuesday alone.

“I got a phone call and I went down to that man that evening to give a hand with the generator and next thing the phone starting ringing a bit more.

“I went to another one or two and then the phone kept ringing. So I did my best to fit them in but the biggest problem was people weren’t just wired up for it really.

“Thank God help came on board and relieved the whole thing a bit.”

The following day, Wednesday, Liam milked seven herds. Thankfully the situation eased a bit after that when other neighbours were in a position to lend a hand.

I was only giving fellas a helping hand really. We could all be stuck someday

“Tuesday was the biggest day. I was only giving fellas a helping hand really. We could all be stuck someday. It was just handy I had the generator.”

Dairy farmers Fintan McSweeney and his brother Brian were among those without power for most of a week in Donoughmore. The deterioration of ground conditions meant they had to house stock.

Fintan McSweeney with his nephew Dara and brother Brian. \ Tommy Moyles

“We have a generator for milking but everything is housed because of the rain. That's about three weeks ahead of time,” he explained.

“Because the water pump wasn’t working in one yard, we had to leave stock out there again. We got away light enough compared to some neighbours but it’s a nuisance.”

Dairygold strategy

Dairygold staff in the worst-hit areas are meeting twice a day to manage the situation.

With little or no phone coverage to contact farmers, Denis Guiry of Dairygold had to drive around to farmyards initially to co-ordinate the effort.

“Lads reverted to milking once a day but cooling wasn’t always possible. If it couldn’t be collected, it had to be dumped. It happened in a lot of farms. As much as possible, drivers picked up when passing a farm.”

If it couldn’t be collected, it had to be dumped. It happened in a lot of farms

Guiry praised the efforts made by farmers who had generators to help their neighbours.

“In fairness, there was four farmers around here covering a few farms and we were trying to take pressure off those lads as they had their own jobs to do.

“Once other farmers got power back, we were able to free up generators and leave them in yards or share them around between a few farmers.”

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