Jason wins the All-Ireland hedge laying championships

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A local man has become the All Ireland champion in the rural craft of hedge laying.

Jason Brennan is a relative novice at the event but at a competition in Co. Meath, Jason was judged the best and becomes the second person from Northern Ireland to win the title.

He only took up the tradition last year but displayed loads of skill with his billhook to defeat challengers from all over the country.

Hedge laying has been practised for hundreds of years and is the art of rejuvenating a hedgerow by cutting the stems part of the way through, close to ground level, so they can be laid and woven to create a stockproof barrier, while allowing the original stems to continue growing.

If carried out every 25 to 30 years, the technique can rejuvenate the hedge, allowing it to last for hundreds of years, creating a key habitat for wildlife and closing up gaps that livestock can get through.

Jason explained: “I was doing a bit of research last year to find if there was anywhere I could do training.

“I contacted the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland and they put me in touch with one of their representatives. They invited me to have a go at their first-ever national championship last year, where I competed as a novice. Then I got a call last week to invite me to the competition.”

He was marked on the quality of cut and the hinge that connects the laid stem to the stump, the neatness of the stump and the uniformity of the sticks and willow binders used to weave the hedge into a stock-proof structure.