James and Una Furlong have a house of teenagers, but one of James’ own teenage memories is entering a competition to win a Nissan patrol jeep in the Irish Farmers Journal. “I remember I had to collect coupons and I used to hunt them down in the paper every week; I was hooked. “That’s when I discovered the machinery pages, and after that there was no going back.”

James and Una are dairy farmers at Palace West, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. They milk 120 cows and also have a calf to bull beef enterprise. The couple have four children: Shane (14), James (13), Ciara (12) and Mark (7), all of whom love farming and are a great help. “The paper was always in the house growing up, and for my own kids, it’s the same,” says James. “For our farming enterprise, the Irish Farmers Journal is a great source of information and technical knowledge. I’ll always go to the dairy pages first, but I also enjoy the pieces where farmers are telling their own stories.”

Una will always start with Irish Country Living. “It helps me unwind from my busy nursing job,” she says. “I always start with ‘Katherine’s Country’ and I also enjoy the features on successful businesses.”


It was on the pages of Irish Country Living where the Furlongs first saw the call out for farmers to enter the FBD National Farmyard Awards. Deciding to give it a go, they went on to be overall winners in 2013. James says, “We put a lot of work into getting the farmyard ship shape for the judges’ visit.”

He credits the competition with focusing him on farmyard layout and cow flow. He also says that the competition made him very safety conscious on the farm - especially when the children were very small. “It spurred me on to do further development on the farm and I take real pride in keeping things right.”

Young James remembers the excitement of the Ploughing Championships prize-giving ceremony, although he was too young to know what was really happening. “Yes, that was a really proud moment for the family,” says James. “The family photograph appeared on the front page of the Journal and our plaque is a treasured award.”

Shane is doing his Junior Certificate this year and he has his mind made up to do agriculture and be a farmer. Ciara is also interested in an agriculture career. She loves working with animals and, in particular, young calves, which she also enjoys reading about in the Irish Farmers Journal.

“Shane, James and Mark are machinery mad and go straight to the machinery section - especially the Templetouhy Farm Machinery section to see what John Deere tractors are for sale,” says James.

In the past, both Una and James helped keep our circulation up as they often arrived home with the paper on the same day. “We’ve gotten savvy now and opted for the postal system,” says James, laughing. “Now the Journal is delivered every Thursday and everyone is happy.”


‘I like to read stories

from farmers’ lives – it resonates with me’

Reminiscing, Willie Hanrahan says his father, Paddy, was a very traditional man. Reading the Irish Farmers Journal, Paddy was always sceptical of early grazing and the like. Tongue in cheek, he’d ask, “What are those Cork farmers up to now?” “It was actually a source of ridicule rather than accolade,” says Willie, smiling at the memory.

In Newtown, Kilkee, Co Clare, Willie and Catherine Hanrahan have five adult children - Eileen, Patrick, Liam, Martha and David. They farm in partnership with Liam and milk 190 cows. With 250 acres, the land is in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and has challenging heavy soil.

“The Irish Farmers Journal was always bought at home and in Catherine’s house, too,” says Willie. “First, I go to the front page, then maybe a quick glance at the Dealer, the forecast - even though I have two weather apps on the phone - and afterwards, the cattle reports and mart pages. Then everything gets a thorough read, including Irish Country Living. After all, the Journal is around for the whole week until the next one comes in. It’s always an informative read, although sometimes there is a bit of scaremongering in articles, which I find annoying.”


Catherine always goes to the front cover feature of Irish Country Living and appreciates how Neven Maguire’s recipes are relevant to the seasons. “I like to read stories from farmers’ lives. When the farmer is featured, it resonates with me,” says Catherine.

Now both Willie and Liam have the Irish Farmers Journal app on the phone and still buy the paper. “Farming is changing every day and I like to keep up-to-date with the app.” It is particularly important as Liam is the national chairman of the Agricultural Affairs committee of Macra.

The Hanrahans have themselves been profiled in the paper. Liam won the 2019 FBD Young Farmer of the Year and Aidan Brennan featured his work in a piece. Willie remembers a piece written many years ago about the drainage system on his farm. Barry Murphy also did an interview with him when he was county chairman of Co Clare IFA and on the national council. Wistfully, he says, “That was a nice piece.”

THE naughton FAMILY

‘My son Anthony works

in the mart now and always has the paper

under his arm’

“The Journal is like the bible in our house,” says Michael Naughton, laughing. With 200 acres in Culleen, Knockcroghery, Co Roscommon, he is a suckler and sheep farmer and also runs a calf to beef enterprise. Married to Mary (Miley), they both grew up in farming families where the Irish Farmers Journal was purchased every week. Mary is one of eight children while Michael is one in 13. The couple have five adult children: Ciara, Padraig, Susan, Cáit and Anthony.

In 1972, Michael’s father died after a short illness. “I was three and a half years into a farm apprenticeship programme on Joe Rea’s family farm in Cahir, Co Tipperary. I had just six months to go, was really enjoying it and was very well looked after. Given the circumstances, I was allowed return to the home farm to complete my training. I went home to support my mother, the youngest was just one year old. My father, bought the Journal every week.”

In order to supplement the farming income, it was necessary to have off farm employment. Michael amassed a huge body of knowledge through various jobs buying and selling cattle. Over the years, he worked in Tunney Meats, Halal, Glanbia and Dawn Meats. “If you’re buying or selling cattle, then the Irish Farmers Journal is an essential tool for information. I was never without it,” he says.

In 2002, he became Mart Manager of Roscommon Mart, a position he held for ten years. “Throughout those years, the Journal was essential reading for cattle prices and mart reports. It was always in circulation around the marts and that’s the case still to this day. My son Anthony works in the mart now and always has the paper under his arm.” Mary adds that her favourite part of the paper are the features on successful businesses.

Michael reflects on a piece about land fragmentation, written by Seamus Quinn, which featured his farm. “I remember that time well. Shortly after, the Land Commission stepped in and consolidated the farm through swaps and purchases.” Another appearance etched in Michael’s memory is a picture of himself with a Charolais bull in the early 80s. “I got a great kick out of that picture, I know I have it somewhere in the house, it has been put away safely.”

Given the early connection, one of Michael’s firm favourites in the paper was “Rea at Large,” written by the late Joe Rea. “Joe really gave me good solid advice and support in the early years and I always enjoyed reading him in the paper.”

Michael and Mary agree that the Irish Farmers Journal helped their farming business, provided connections with other farmers and entertained them for the last 50 years. CL

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