BALLYDEHOB native Patrick McCarthy, representing Caheragh Macra from the Carbery region, was chosen as one of the national rural youth organisation’s top three leaders at the National Leadership Awards, sponsored by ABP Food Group.
The announcement was made at a special reception in the Castleknock Hotel in Dublin. The other winners were Cara O’Mahony, Naas Macra, Co Kildare, and James Barber, Rathdowney, Co Laois, and all three were presented with specially-commissioned commemorative trophies.
There were three other finalists, including Padraig O’Driscoll of Kilmeen Macra in West Cork; Deirdre Kennedy, Sligo Town Macra, and Colm Taylor of Clonoulty- Rossmore Macra in Co Tipperary.
Macra na Feirme national president, Seán Finan, congratulated all this year’s National Leadership Award winners: ‘This competition recognises the hard work and commitment of our young leaders who play a major role in our organisation and who often go on to hold positions in other national organisations,’ he said.
‘Dating back to 1982, previous winners of the competition include current government ministers and business leaders. I would also like to thank ABP Food Group for their support of these awards and for helping make this night a memorable one for all involved.’
The National Leadership Awards recognise the leadership skills of Macra members within their clubs and the wider community. The competition raises the level and standard of leadership in Macra and provides an incentive for the development of club programmes.
One of the three winners, Patrick McCarthy, is a dairy farmer from Ballydehob. He graduated from Darrara Agricultural College in 2005 and spent part of his time in college on placement in New Zealand.
He is a member of Caheragh Macra since 2006. He has been club chair, PRO, secretary and treasurer in this time. He was also elected secretary of Carbery Macra region in 2009.
In 2014, he was elected as Carbery’s national council representative and served two years in that position. He also served on Macra na Feirme’s agriculture affairs committee, including a year as vice-chair of the committee. As a dairy farmer, he found the committee very beneficial and has seen firsthand the work it does for young farmers.
The other Leadership Awards finalist from West Cork was Padraig O’Driscoll, a part-time dairy farmer and a self-employed Quality Assurance auditor in the agricultural industry.
He has been a Kilmeen Macra na Feirme member since 2011.
As chair of Kilmeen, he led the club to the Best Club of the Region award in 2012 and 2013. He was chair of the Carbery Macra development and education committee from 2014 to 2016.
Membership across the 11 clubs in the region grew by 45% in these two years, making Carbery the region with the highest number of members in Ireland. Padraig is the current Carbery Macra national council representative and is also leading a sub-committee of the Macra rural youth committee to produce the first national Macra policy on mental health and social isolation.
A key strength of his is bringing people together from diverse backgrounds and inspiring people to achieve things they never thought they could. Padraig says: ‘I believe there’s always scope for innovation and it is important that we, as youth, shape our future and not just react to change.’
This year’s six finalists were judged by a panel that included Elaine Farrell, Oireachtas liaison executive at the Irish Farmers Association; Sean Eustace former Macra na Feirme president 1975-77, and Steve Hardcastle of ABP Food Group.