ABRAHAM Kingston of Meenies, Drimoleague was presented with honorary life membership of the IFA recently, in recognition of his long years of active involvement in the organisation, during which time he lobbied fervently for the good of his fellow farmers.
At a function in the Parkway Hotel in Dunmanway, the IFA director general, Damian McDonald, made the presentation and the event was attended by officers of West Cork IFA, as well as by Munster chairman, Harold Kingston. Growing up on the home farm, which has been in the family for at least six generations, Abraham said he was greatly impressed by the farmers’ march from Bantry to Dublin in 1966 and the subsequent campaign for farmers’ rights.
This prompted him to become an IFA member and, within a year of joining, he was elected secretary of the Drimoleague branch.
In subsequent years, he has been branch chairman on a number of occasions and has supported numerous IFA events down through the years.
Abraham took over the family farm in 1973 and, in 1985, he was runner-up in the Milk Supplier of the Year competition.
In 1992, he was Munster regional winner of the farming conservation award.
He has also been a host farmer and mentor for agricultural students doing work experience for their green certs. Abraham was a pioneer of farm forestry long before it became the much-advocated enterprise of recent times, when it is promoted as being environmentally positive and a great antidote to climate change.
In 1987, he planted an outside farm, 18 miles from home, which he expanded further in 1997.
He held the post of farm forestry representative for West Cork IFA for a total of 12 years, was a founder member of the Forestry Owners Co-op and he has lobbied for farmers with forestry at numerous levels. However, Abraham’s life has been far from limited to his farming activities and his IFA involvement.
In 2013, he was a driving force behind a local committee which linked into the Discover Ireland initiative known as The Gathering.
That brought over 1,000 members of the Kingston clan from all over the world to a five day get-together in Drimoleague.
The success of that event prompted the committee, chaired by Abraham, to repeat the programme in August 2018, when it was opened and attended by the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers, who has Kingston ancestry.
For many years, Abraham has served as a lay preacher to the West Cork Methodist Circuit and he has held various voluntary positions in the church.
Over the years, he has cared for families and communities who were isolated, vulnerable, elderly or bereaved.
For the past 40 years, he and his wife, Eleanor, who are parents to four daughters, have hosted the annual Meenies Field Meeting. This is an annual open-air service of religious thanksgiving that was begun by Abraham’s grandfather back in 1907.
Abraham has served on school boards of management, the committee of management of Drinagh Co-op, the Shinagh Farm Board and the advisory committee of Skibbereen Mart, where he became mart chairman.
He has also been part of the team involved in developing the Drimoleague walkways which lead from Drimoleague to Gougane Barra (St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Way) and from Drimoleague to the Sheep’s Head Way.
He was involved in developing the local pitch ‘n’ putt grounds, as well as the planning and construction of two community halls in Drimoleague – one used by a playgroup and the other serving the whole community.
Abraham’s voluntary efforts, demonstrated over many years, were given recognition when he won the nomination from West Cork IFA for the Paddy Fitzgerald Awards in 2018.
These awards were established to acknowledge the voluntary work of farming people, not only for their fellow farmers, but also for the wider community. Abraham is a man who has a strong passion for farming, forestry, people and his local area.
The father-of-four gains great joy from organising local events, bringing people together and fostering community spirit.