At the start of a new year, there can be a tendency to look back and reflect and / or look forward and plan. For some, this is a useful exercise while for others, not so much. Margaret Leahy writes in Backchat how keeping a journal is not for her but I would say that the practice can be very helpful to some.

I wrote a diary for 15 years, then just stopped and every so often I think of picking it up again. Then again maybe I should just start that book (that everyone has in them) considering that one of my biggest regrets was that both my grandads died without me writing down their words and stories. Both of their wives – my grandmothers, Eileen Cahill and Bridget O’Shea – died before I ever knew them. So in effect my grandads took not only their own stories to the grave but also their versions of the stories of these two incredible women.

As I read this week’s Irish Country Living, I see a consistent theme of recording the past to learn from it. From the cover story on Karen Tompkins’ business The Treasure Vox that records people’s life stories to Margaret Farrelly who has just self-published her own life story. Margaret says of her book: “It was written in the hope that it will help other people believe in themselves.”

In Living Life this week, Caitríona spoke with the author of Abandoned Ireland, Rebecca Brownlie. In the book, Rebecca tells the stories of the country’s derelict buildings. In speaking about her visit to the mother and baby home in Co Down, she said: “It is an awful part of our history.

On the one hand it is now demolished but on the other hand … we need to remember and learn from it.” If you are interested in writing your own story or someone else’s, we are starting a new monthly memoir writing series with Maureen Boyle. No excuses now.

As journalists, we are very lucky to be given the opportunity to put our views, opinions and stories into the public domain on a daily basis. The Guild of Agricultural Journalists was 60 years old in 2021.

The organisation runs two main biennial events, the Michael Dillion memorial lecture and the guild awards. While only working as a journalist this last four years, I have attended both events as a guest of a good friend for the last 16.

I never entered the awards until this year and suffice to say that I was thrilled to win best Technical Article for an entry in my Cutting through the Bull series which looked at the facts around replacing meat and dairy foods with plant based alternatives.

The aims of the guild are to promote and maintain the highest standards of agricultural journalism, to encourage the free exchange of ideas and stimulate expansion and development within the field of agricultural journalism.

Another big birthday happening in 2023 is that of our own publication, the Irish Farmers Journal which will be 75 years old.

The mandate of the paper has stayed the same over that period: to provide the best possible technical support, market information and news to the agricultural sector.

With so much misinformation circulating and with so much change being imposed on the agri sector, the aims of the guild and the mandate of the Irish Farmers Journal are more relevant than ever.

Happy new year from all the team at Irish Country Living.

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