Farmer battled for 48 hours to save €500,000 crop after Donegal floods

125 acres flooded on Tuesday night

Declan Magee


Declan Magee

A Donegal farmer hopes that his 48-hour battle to save 125 acres of crops from destruction by flood water has not been in vain.

Seamus Lynch battled non-stop for 48 hours to save the crops after his fields were left flooded by a combination of heavy rain and a spring tide at Porthall on the banks of the River Foyle.

He fears his crop of potato, barley and corn, which is valued in the region half a million euro, may have been totally destroyed.

Mr Lynch has been fighting since 6am on Wednesday to save the crop. The 65 acres of potatoes are valued at between 4,000 and €5,000 an acre.

Seven pumps have been working 24 hours a day to save the crop. Trenches were dug at low tide to let water back out into the River Foyle and then filled up to keep the water out.

Mr Lynch said the task facing him now is a salvage job to see what remains of the crop.

“We have been pumping away at the water and we are just trying to do a salvage job, It is just a matter of trying to do your best and see what you get. We will know better in a fortnight’s time,” he said.

Donegal TD and government minister, Joe McHugh, visited the flooded fields on Thursday night.

“He said he would do his best and talk to other ministers,” Mr Lynch said.

“We will need financial assistance but will we get it? No one knows what is going to happen.”

Jim Devenney, an agricultural consultant who has been involved in the salvage operation, said they were hopeful that enough has been in done in time to save most of the crop.

He said it would take almost a month before it is known how much of the potato crop has been saved.

“We hope we have got it in time because 24 hours is a long as potatoes manage underwater. We have had seven tractors using pumps and we cut the bank in seven or eight places to let the water out when the tide was low.

“The grain was totally under water and a good portion of the potatoes were too. There were places in the field where the water was up to your waste. A hell of a lot of work has been done. We have worked around the clock and the pumps have not stopped. The amount of water that fell in that six hours - I never saw anything like it in my lifetime. There is a half a million gross value there. The loss could be €100,000 but that’s only an estimate. Getting the water away in the first 24 hours was essential and we have very nearly achieved that. Some were outside the 24 hours but that will minimise it. But there has to be some sort of compensation package. No farmer could withstand that sort of loss.”

IFA President, Joe Healy, visited the Inishowen area on Friday morning.

He said the flash flooding has caused devastation for dozens of farmers, with farmland, sheds, stock and farmhouses badly damaged by the heavy downpour earlier in the week.

“The farming community is reeling from the shock of what happened here on Tuesday. In some cases, stock has been lost and in other cases, land and crops are submerged under water. Farm families have been cut off because of damage to roads and bridges.”

Mr Healy said the farmers he had met were still trying to come to terms with the destruction caused by the unprecedented level of rainfall. “They are facing ruin because of the losses they have suffered.”