‘Good years will come again’ for 1,200 agriculture students

ABOUT 1,200 students attend full-time agricultural courses in Ireland. At Clonakilty Agricultural College, Michael Stack, from Farran, Co Cork, is a third-year student, from a non-farming background.

“I always had an interest in farming and agriculture, and wanted to get a better education in farming. From a young age, I worked on my uncle’s farm, I just enjoy farming life and want a career from it,” he says.

There are 80,000 people working in the agri-sector in Ireland, and Michael Stack’s aim, once qualified, is to forge a career in this sector.

Catriona O’Donoghue is from Bantry, Co Cork. she is also a third-year student at Clonakilty, and is anxious to keep running the family’s suckler farm when she finishes her education, and to expand it, if possible. “Many of my friends have jobs in offices, but I just like the outdoor life. It’s really just the freedom that it offers you.” Also, looking beyond the farm gate, she is now considering a career as an agricultural science teacher.

Michael O’Brien, from nearby Barryroe, Co Cork, is another Clonakilty student who sees his future in farming, possibly running alongside a career in marketing with an agri-business company. Michael is in year two of what is called the HETAC course.

Thomas Condon, from Emly, Co Tipperary, is doing the FETAC course, (formerly known as the Green Cert). Next year, along with completing this course, he’s going to the University of Limerick to study nursing. “Down here, in Clonakilty, it makes you think of farming as a business, more so than just milking cows,” he says.

Farming, at the moment, is perceived to be going through a turbulent time, and I ask the students why bother with farming at all, when everything seems so bleak right now? “We all love the farming life,” Michael Stack says, “we wouldn’t be here, I suppose, if we didn’t. And even if this year has been a bad year, we still keep going, because the good years will come again, we won’t give up, and that is really it.”

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