It’s farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Emma Kirby-Boyle (22), Clonmel, Co Tipperary in this week’s Women in Ag segment. We discuss his off-farm roots, his passion for dairy farming, earning the part-time green certificate, his professional career as an occupational therapist, and his desire to establish his own herd of cattle.
“I got into farming when my partner, Brian, and his father, Seamus, switched from nursing to dairy in 2018.
They milk nearly 100 cows in South Tipperary and taught me everything I know about farming.
They encouraged me and gave me every opportunity to get involved, and were incredibly patient as I asked a million questions.
I recently graduated as an occupational therapist, so the plan is to do that and move agriculture forward.
Currently I work as a relief milker with FRS on farms in South Tipperary.
I spent the spring working on a spring calving dairy farm, milking 120 cows.
My responsibilities included milking the cows, rearing the calves, calving the cows and any other work the farmer might need help with.
I like to be outside every day in all weathers. Additionally, I have a huge interest in working with livestock whether it is feeding or moving or any other livestock related task.
I think spring on a dairy farm is magical, and I feel privileged to be involved in raising the calves and watching them grow and develop.
Some farmers I’ve worked for will know not to let me near a reel (that’s a story for another day).
But seriously, I guess I’m not as physically strong as my male counterparts, but luckily there’s now plenty of equipment to help with that.
Also, I get too attached to the calves and keep them as pets.
Currently I am completing the Distance Learning Green Certificate through Teagasc Thurles, having enrolled in the course in 2021.
After completing my degree in Occupational Therapy, I registered to get my Green Cert as a part-time student. As part of the course, I did the two internships on Brian and Seamus’ farm.
The course – which I will graduate from in November 2022 – includes a Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture and a Level 6 Leaving Certificate in Agriculture.
women in agriculture
When I started rescue milking, being a woman in agriculture first worried me.
However, I have been fortunate enough to work with the friendliest farmers who are happy to see a woman come down to the yard.
This comes up a lot in discussions, and from what I can see farmers are excited to see more and more women involved in the industry.
I am relatively new to agriculture, but from what I can see, the recognition of women’s work in agriculture has come a very long way.
Although it remains a male dominated industry and the work women have done in the past has been largely invisible, I believe that women are increasingly being recognized for their work on Irish farms.
Government initiatives such as increasing the subsidy rate to 60% for women under the Targeted Agriculture Modernization (TAMS) program and women in farming groups are extremely inspiring and encourage more women to participate. actively in the management of Irish farms.
I think women have a lot to add to the farms. Making farms a welcoming environment for women is so important. I would have loved the opportunity to do agricultural science, but that was not an option for us at an all-girls high school.
I think giving women opportunities to get involved is the most important thing.
There is no shortage of jobs to do on a farm, so girls/women have plenty of opportunities to try their hand at it.
Life as a woman in agriculture can be difficult because I am not as strong as my male counterparts.
But, saying that, I don’t let that hold me back. I do what I can and ask for help when I need it.
Dairy farm, TO and own cattle herd
In the future, when I have my Green Cert under my belt, I hope to lease some land and have my own small herd of cattle.
And I insist that it will be small, but it will be mine, and I will also be the first in my family.
I want to continue to learn about the dairy industry and practice the skills I learned through my Green Cert studies.
If you want a career in agriculture, go for it; stuck in.
In my experience, it’s an incredibly rewarding career, so if you’re willing to work hard and get dirty, you’ll do just fine.
So in summary I want to have my own small herd of cattle, continue to be an active part of Irish dairy farming and also practice as an occupational therapist.
I enjoy being involved in Irish dairy farming. Although I don’t have my own herd yet, I’m so proud to be part of the Irish dairy industry in my own way.
Farmers are the most resilient and hardworking people, and I enjoy working with them every day.
Future of farming
I hope that agriculture in Ireland will continue to go from strength to strength.
Irish farmers produce very high quality products that are recognized around the world.
This year, more than ever, I think people will recognize where their food comes from and continue to support Irish agriculture,” said the occupational therapist.
To share your story as this agricultural occupational therapist, email [email protected]
See more women in agricultural profiles.