Lorraine Farrelly (22) inherited her grandfather’s farm when he passed away last year.
The second-generation part-time farmer - who has her own herd number - purchases Hereford and Angus heifer calves for breeding purposes.
She also helps her father - Raymond - a full-time farmer - to run a suckler and sheep enterprise in Ballinlough, Kells, Co. Meath.
“I am part of a family of eight – two of my siblings are in university and another sibling is a qualified lawyer,” Lorraine told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
“Everyone helps with the farm as it is our livelihood and only for it, we wouldn’t be able to go to college.”
Over sixty Charolais-cross, Hereford-cross, Limousin-cross and pedigree Angus breeding females dominate the pastures, along with over twenty bullocks.
The Farrellys run a calf-to-beef enterprise; progeny are slaughtered in Liffey Meats, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan. Heifers with five-star replacement ratings are retained for breeding purposes.
A 30-ewe flock - mainly Charollais, Suffolk and Texel-types - are farmed alongside the suckler herd.
Along with her farming commitments, Lorraine is also a full-time third-level student and she wears many other hats.
She also works as a shop assistant in her locality at weekends, is hired by FRS during the lambing season and works in a local bakery during busy periods in order to fund her studies.
Lorraine completed a one-year healthcare course after her Leaving Certificate and then worked as a homecare assistance for twelve months.
“By having the experience caring for people, I was able to care for my grandad for ten-weeks in the comfort his own home.” The qualified first aider explained.
Lorraine enrolled in Dundalk Institute of Technology’s BSc (Hons) in Agriculture degree programme in September 2016. The course is a collaborative programme delivered jointly with Teagasc at Ballyhaise Agricultural College.
The 22-year-old - who commutes to college daily - completed her eight-week placement module at Grange Beef Research Centre - an experience which has shaped her career direction.
“This was my first CAO choice as I was drawn to the fact that students spend time in both Ballyhaise Agricultural College and DkIT.” she added.
Women in Ag
Lorraine highlighted that female participation in agricultural higher education is increasing every year.
She believes that more single-sex second-level schools should offer agricultural science as a Leaving Certificate subject option in order to encourage more females to further their studies in this field.
“I attended an all-girls school in Eureka and this, coupled with my farming background, influenced my current area of study.”
She believes that women in agriculture are becoming recognised for their contribution to the sector. “We are just as intelligent as our male counterparts and are well capable of doing the same work.”
“Being a woman in ag makes me more determined to prove myself and to do things for myself.” She added.
In addition to the aforementioned difficulties as a female in a male-denominated sector, Lorraine revealed that one of the biggest challenges she faces as a young trained farmer is access land.
“It’s difficult to have money to purchase land in my locality due to the continued growth and establishment of dairy farms.”
"I would like to buy a block of land in one area instead of owning and/or renting land miles apart.” The secretary of North Meath Vintage Club stressed.
Looking forward, Lorraine – who is set to graduate in May 2020 – hopes to works as an agricultural inspector or as an agricultural advisor.
“In the future, I plan to take a year out and go to Australia/New Zealand with my partner as he is also interested in agriculture.”
The 22-year-old is passionate about promoting positive mental health and well-being through Ramor Macra; she will continue this line of work going forward.
“Macra is very important to me; it gave me a chance to make a change after my grandad passed away."
"I have made friends with people from all walks of life - from farming and non-farming backgrounds."
“It is a fantastic time to be involved in the agricultural sector as it continues to grow and evolve – I look forward to the future that lies ahead,” she concluded.
If you have a story to share, email Catherina Cunnane - email@example.com