Grace is a young 20 year old farming student, who hails from the mountainous areas of south Kerry.
A farming enthusiast from a young age, she remembers always attending marts with her father from when she could walk.
She lists her father, a full-time sucker and sheep farmer, as her main influence in agriculture.
They have always maintained a very close relationship, and Grace offers a helping hand to her father when she can. Her father farms 35 Suckler limousine cows and 250 scotch ewes, this means there is always work that needs doing.
Her earliest farming memory is helping to bottle feed little pet lambs followed by a game of chase with them. An activity she still loves and does to this day.
Having always wanted to pursue a career in farming Grace has gone on to study Agricultural science in the Institute of Technology in Tralee.
She admits her studies have left her with little time for helping out at home, though she does attend IFA and Teagasc meetings with her father.
When not in college Grace helps out anyway she can, whether that be going to the mart, shearing sheep, moving animals to different paddocks, and cleaning out or feeding the animals.
She also helps out with doing the books of the farm as well as dosing, lambing and feeding during spring months.
She enjoys the farming way of life as in her words “with any farm there is never a typical day…which is what I enjoy most”.
She one day hopes to take over the management of her father’s farm, and then wants to increase Suckler numbers. That being said she harbours dreams of one day, after completing her studies, becoming a farm advisor or working in a similar role.
When asked about what she thinks of the future of the industry, Grace felt the future is “bright”. She says the increased modern technology and fresh ideas coming from younger generations means that productivity and profitability can only increase.
She hopes this will mean more women entering the industry and becoming more influential. She has also noticed a severe lack of women at agri related meetings she attends and rarely sees any women when attending marts.
That being said the ever-optimistic Grace feels this will all change in the coming months/years. She remains hopeful that “in the future women will have a greater input”.
She pointed to her college course as a sign of things changing within the industry “in my course at the moment there are 2 boys for every 1 girl…In years gone by this ratio could be as high as 10 lads to 1 girl”. That surely does prove that change is on the horizon.
When asked what advice she would have for women contemplating a career in Agriculture Grace replied with this strong message “in this day and age, women are just as good as men and what is to stop them from coming on board, driving a tractor, tagging a sheep, what makes men so different from us? We are all the same at the end of the day, if the lads can do it why can’t we?”.
A great insight of the industry at such a young age, Grace also commented on the lack of women in high end jobs in the industry. She feels more high-end opportunities should be afforded to women and feels the only reason this isn’t the case already is because of the stigma surrounding women in the industry.
She remembers the times when she was a young girl attending the marts, and the look of shock on people’s faces to see a girl present. She didn’t take offence though describing it as “harmless fun” although she felt there was a general opinion that she shouldn’t have been there.
This didn’t deter Grace though, as through her father’s encouragement, she has never felt as if agriculture was a single sex industry and as she say’s “I had been raised (so) I could be a farmer”.
With no brothers, she feels this may well have been very different had she had brothers. Though she reiterates her parents support for her, insisting “my parents never had that attitude (that farming is a gender specific industry) with me.”
On a lighter note I asked Grace of her funniest farming memory and she had an absolute belter to tell us.
She remembers a friend of hers as a 4/5-year-old being put into a barrel to keep out of harm’s way while work was being completed. Although the poor boy ended up being forgotten and remained stuck in the tall barrel until he was rescued by a passing relative. She described it as “harmless fun” and says it had to be done to keep him safe.
Only 20 years of age and already such a strong knowledge of the industry.
A very insightful, knowledgeable young lady who is definitely one for the future of the industry. Already she is attending meetings and soaking up as much knowledge and information as she can.
She said she hoped for more top jobs to be given to women in the industry, well I’m going to make a prediction in that regard. With her love, drive, diligence, and knowledge of the industry, I feel we are looking at one of agriculture’s future leaders, and Grace will someday hold one of the coveted top jobs in the industry.