Monday evening, November 15th last, saw the announcement of the Teagasc Student of the Year award winners. These FBD-sponsored Teagasc awards have been in place for over 30 years and are a wonderful recognition of graduates of Teagasc education.
A virtual award ceremony was held to showcase the finalists. There were 14 finalists in all. Professor Gerry Boyle, director of Teagasc, stated that ‘the 14 students recognised through these awards are the future leaders in Irish agriculture.’
West Cork was well represented in the final, with two finalists. John O’Mahony, Dreenacreenig East, Drimoleague, who was Student of the Year in his own class in West Cork, recently graduating with his QQI level 6 along with his fellow course participants. John completed his Teagasc Green Certificate through the Teagasc office, Skibbereen. He says that he picked up many ideas from the course teachings, while also being very grateful to his fellow class members for the many chats and ideas about their farming futures.
One of the ideas that John highlighted was using information available from Sheep Ireland in selecting rams for his sheep flock. This helped John in bringing a Wicklow Cheviot ram back home for crossbreeding with his Drimoleague Scotch Ewes.
This helps to produce lambs of higher value, some of which are sold on as ewe replacements. It isn’t the first time Cork and Wicklow have combined so well and it is great to see it happening again.
Máire Keohane from Ballintemple, Clonakilty, was also a finalist and she received a second runner-up award. Máire attended the local Clonakilty Agricultural College and achieved an advanced level 6 dairy herd management award.
The staff in the college have expressed their delight at Máire’s success.
Having completed her advanced certificate, Máire enrolled on the Teagasc professional dairy diploma in dairy herd management. Grassland management is key on the Keohanes’ wonderfully picturesque farm overlooking the sea. They are adding, with their good management, to the natural advantage of being able to grow grass for much of the year.
Máire and her family also recognise the huge importance of biodiversity on their farms and have some specific areas dedicated to it. A wonderful feature is the use of signs to highlight some specific areas. Rainwater is also harvested on the farm.
Enda Farrell from Longford won the overall student of the year award. A feature of Enda’s story is that he is farming successfully in partnership with both parents.
Other award winners were also involved in family partnerships.
Liam Herlihy, chair of the Teagasc authority, highlighted the unique features of Irish farms in that family members get to work side-by-side. Typically, many parents and their children get to work together.
‘This isn’t unique to Irish farming, but it is a particular feature of life on Irish farms which doesn’t exist in many other occupations.’
The Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue noted that all finalists ‘and your families can be very proud of what you have achieved.’ If you would like to find about more about a career in farming and the courses available, contact the Clonakilty Agricultural College or Teagasc in Macroom.
• Pat Flannery is the Teagasc education officer for West Cork and is based in the Macroom office. Pat works closely with Clonakilty Agricultural College in the delivery of the part-time QQI Level 6 course in agriculture (Green Cert).