The landscape at Lisnavagh has changed quite a lot since the arrival of the Bunburys over 330 years ago. By the 17th century, Ireland had been almost completely stripped of all trees. There was probably some planting of trees along hedgerows and around the first house at Lisnavagh in the 18th century (as can be seen on the 1840 Ordnance Survey), but it was not really until the second half of the 19th century that any significant planting took place. Today, 25% of the estate’s 800 acres are in woodland.
The farm lies largely on granite sand and limestone gravels and is between 103 and 144m above sea level. Average rainfall is approximately 1000mm (40”) per year.
For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, a herd of shorthorn cattle was kept at Lisnavagh, as well as sheep. The high standard of breeding of the shorthorns was very important to several generations of Bunburys and resulted in a very high quality herd of cattle. Many prizes were won at the RDS and other showgrounds over the years. As well as livestock there would have been some tillage, including crops of oats, wheat, barley and some root crops such as turnips.
Since then, there have been many changes to farming practices. Like all farms, Lisnavagh went through technological changes including the moves from horse power to steam power to diesel power and also the intensification of agricultural production through the use of sprays & fertilisers in the latter half of the 20th century.
On many farms, field sizes increased in accordance with the economies of scale. Although the removal of hedgerows & banks was in vogue around the country for a while (until it rightly became taboo more recently), relatively few were removed at Lisnavagh. Wildlife management and ecology have been extremely important here for many years and notably so while the farming was under the stewardship of Andy Verney who, although recently retired, continues to help and offer useful advice on many aspects the estate’s management.
Today, the estate farms 176 acres of tillage land with crops such as wheat & barley. A further 137 acres of tillage land is used for growing Christmas trees. 195 acres of grassland is grazed by sheep & cattle belonging to local farmers. There are 200 acres of woodlands on the estate, mainly hardwoods. The remainder of the 800 acres is made up of roads, in-hand paddocks, buildings and the Gardens.