The Irish Hurley Manufacturer, like most businesses, has always had a number of external threats from new materials, international producers and rising production costs but Ash Dieback could be the real grim reaper for many in the industry.
So what exactly is dieback?
Ash dieback is a serious disease of ash trees caused by the fungal pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (previously known as Chalara fraxinea).
Even though the disease was only first detected in Ireland in 2012, it's believed that dieback existed in mainland Europe at least 20 years previously before becoming a problem here.
What are Hurley Makers doing to mitigate the issue in their operations?
For many smaller manufacturers the addition of the sad scenario in the Ukraine has removed their backup ash supply causing these businesses to shut. More established businesses have looked to closely managing their ash supply while looking at alternative supply areas or even replacement materials for the bás of the hurleys in particular.
What is the government doing to help?
Teagasc have been rapidly testing management interventions such as selection thinning and couple felling amongst other practises to help improve the health of forestry where the disease may be present.
Where is this going to leave the players in terms of access to traditional hurleys?
Dieback is a challenge that will require several solutions in the medium term in terms of hurley production. Suppliers will most likely look to possible hybrid options to bridge the gap in production.