Pat Higgins farms 100 acres of wet grassland and bog/heath in Glasha county Limerick. The farm has been in the family for generations and growing up on the farm Pat developed a true love and respect for the nature that has surrounded him his entire life. Nature conservation, creating habitats and encouraging wildlife to the land has been central to how Pat has managed the farm for the past 40 years.
There is 60 acres of forestry on the land, a mixture of spruce and native woodland. Pat also keeps a herd of 40 breeding ewes and his low-impact farming system helps maintain the natural grassland on the farm - “I’m very happy with the sheep as they do very little damage to the ground, they are easy to keep and they are the best natural manure spreader you can get.” Pat has been part of the Hen Harrier Program since 2020 - “The Hen Harrier Program has educated me in terms of managing the grassland in ways that protects wildlife. Now when I see a bunch of rushes, I think to myself – that's good now, because that’s a bit of cover for a frog, a mouse or a bird.”
30 years ago, Pat developed a large 3-acre lake on the farm where the water comes from natural springs on the land. There are native trees including Oak, Alder and Birch planted around the lake. This has attracted vast amounts of wildlife to the farm, including but not limited to red squirrel, hares, pheasant, moorhens, mallets, cranes, herons and frogs. “I’m very proud of the lake because it’s a real buzz of activity. We spend hours watching the wildlife there – it gives me huge joy.”
Pat is a sheep farmer with 6ha of bog/heath and wet grassland in the heart of the Stack's to Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle SPA breeding Hen Harrier Special Protection Area (SPA). Pat joined the Hen Harrier Program in 2020. He has been focused on the delivery of high quality habitats to support of wildlife. He has installed an lake to provide habitats for while range of bird species that is 0.70ha in size. He also has provide his farm for filming on high quality habitats for hen harrier training videos. The farm is home to red squirrels, hares and numerous more species which remarkable due to its small size. Pat have under taken a regime of planting large amounts of broadleaved trees adjoining forestry. Pat is always looking for ways to improve the improve the quality of habitats on the farm to benefit wildlife. He ensures his stock are rotated regularly and works with nature to get the best from his land. He has built a cabin alongside the lake to observe the wildlife without disturbing them.
Nominator: Eoin McCarthy, Project Officer, Hen Harrier Project