Brendan Stewart is one of the few remaining reed cutters still harvesting along the Bunratty reed beds on the Shannon Estuary. This backbreaking work involves the reed being harvested after the first frosts, which strip all the leaves off the reed leaving a golden stem five to seven feet in height. A roof thatched using water reed can last up to 40 years in Ireland. In recent years imported reed from Eastern Europe has taken its toll on the numbers keeping the tradition here alive.