A strong farming background coupled with studying Agricultural Science as a Leaving Certificate subject influenced Emma Kilmartin’s career.
The Kiltoom, Athlone, Co. Roscommon native was drawn to University College Dublin’s (UCD) Animal Science degree because of the college’s renowned reputation and an opportunity to travel abroad for work experience.
Although she obtained the first choice on her CAO, Emma (19) deferred her place for one year following her Leaving Certificate; she worked on the family farm, in retail and in the hospitality industry.
“In hindsight, it was the best decision I could have made and I feel as though I entered the best course for me at the best time.” Emma Kilmartin – a second-year student - told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
“So far, my time in UCD has been an unquestionable fantastic experience.” She added.
Emma is due to undertake 16 weeks of professional work experience (PWE) next year as part of this level-8 degree programme. She would like to travel abroad to complete part of this module in order to explore agricultural practices in other countries.
“I think somewhere in America or New Zealand is where I would like to travel to but it is not something I have fully made my mind up on yet.”
A Family Tradition
Farming has always played a huge role in Emma’s family; the farm has made its way through a long lineage and she will be the fourth generation to take the reins of the enterprise.
“As an only child, it wasn’t long before I was brought out to the farm to bottle-feed pet lambs.” She explained.
“I remember when I was around 11-years old I saved up all my money and bought my first pony; the sense of pride that accompanied it was unlike no other.”
The Kilmartin’s 130-acre suckler and sheep farm is spread across four townlands in Co. Roscommon.
Charolais-cross, Simmental, Hereford and Limousins cows are the backbone of the 20-strong suckler cow herd, along with two pedigree stock bulls – a Charolais and a Salers.
Some progeny are sold under 22-months at local marts for further fattening or export, while others are retained on-farm. Steers are slaughtered under 30-months while replacement heifers are AI’d to Aberdeen-Angus or Limousin sires or served by the Salers stock bull.
In addition to this, the Roscommon-based farmers have 100 lowland breeding ewes which are bred to three pedigree Charollais, Texel and Suffolk rams; they also have five ponies.
Lambs are reared until they reach between 4-10-months of age, depending on weight gain. “Lambs are weaned from the ewes at 3 months; single lambs will be finished quicker, while twins and triplets take a little longer to get to market.” The 19-year-old said.
The Kilmartins supply Bord Bia-approved beef and lamb to the food chain through Kepak and Moyvalley Meats.
Women in Agriculture
Emma said her experiences as a female in agriculture have been “primary positive”, although there have been times when her capabilities have been underestimated on the farm.She believes that one can overcome these advertises with persistence.
“Due to the deep traditional mindset that is associated with farming in Ireland, I think it will be difficult to utterly shake the perpetual stigma that exists with regards to women in agriculture, particularly amongst older generations.”
Despite this, she said it cannot be denied that the number of women wishing to become more involved in various sectors of the Ag industry is increasing; Emma believes this is firmly evident amongst the number of females enrolled in UCD's Agricultural degree programmes.
“I feel as though there is a great sense of gratification with being involved in the Agricultural sector in Ireland.”
"The pride that accompanies being involved in such a fulfilled indigenous sector and carrying on a family tradition has to be the most rewarding part of being a part of the agricultural industry." The UCD student added.
As of now, Emma – who is set to graduate in 2021 - has no definitive plans for the future, but she hopes that her path will become more defined following the completion of her PWE module.
The Roscommon native has her sights set on carving out a career in Ireland, with a view to becoming more involved with the running of the family farm.
“Being a young person in Ag is a very rewarding experience as you’re not only a part of a great tradition but also a collective, considerate community.”
“There are so many different courses catered around various spectrums of the industry and there are countless ways to get involved,” Emma concluded.
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