On pages 10-11 in this week’s edition, you’ll hear from the people who have been and continue to be responsible for our annual Women & Agriculture conference each year.Organising this event is a great undertaking and each year provides unique challenges, but I think if you read about what the conference means to our team – who work so hard to make this conference the success it always is – you will see that it is a project we take on not only willingly, but joyfully each year.


When I first moved to an Irish farm from my native Canada 10 years ago, I would have laughed if you told me I would be so heavily involved in a conference for women in agriculture. Now, I couldn’t imagine life without this event in my October calendar.

This isn’t just because of my work with Irish Country Living; it’s because of the support I have received from attendees over the years – the women in agriculture who have taken me in as one of their own, have taught me invaluable life lessons (and more practical ones, too) and have made me laugh and cry. Because of this, I have found a community to which I will always belong and – coming from a completely different background – this has had a hugely positive affect on my life.

This year’s Women & Agriculture theme is ‘Finding the Balance’. This is something I personally struggle with – and I know it is a common struggle for not just the women in the room, but everyone in agriculture. We juggle multiple jobs, children, caring for elderly relatives and household duties.

We crave balance in our lives but achieving it is often easier said than done. We need to achieve balance in our climate goals, our finances and our physical health, but – again – this isn’t an easy thing. Our conference has always been a day for fun, socialising and relaxation, as much as it is about providing informative presentations relevant to the women in our audience, so hopefully we have ‘found the balance’ in our line-up for the day.

Women and Agriculture Conference 2022. \ Philip Doyle

Financially independent

I really enjoy reading our finance columnist, Carol Brick’s, women-focused articles on becoming financially independent. This area, much like agriculture itself, is one where women are rarely considered.

As we work toward policy regarding women in agriculture, we need to also understand the concept of compensation – even when it is a family enterprise in which we are working. For centuries, women have farmed alongside partners and family members without financial recognition. Carol will present on this and cover the area of retrospective compensation – especially for those who have never been paid a salary and hence never paid into a pension.


I would wager that every farming family in Ireland has at least one shed, outbuilding or old cottage which is out of use and/or in need of updating. Experts in sustainable housing tell us that the most sustainable home or building is one which is already built.

With this in mind, RTÉ presenter of Build Your Own Home and co-founder of social enterprise Common Knowledge in Co Clare, Harrison Gardner, will be presenting on just what can be done with older buildings of all sorts. Being an expert in self-builds, he will provide practical information alongside some DIY inspiration.

Our Sarah McIntosh caught up with Harrison recently and he will be featured in an upcoming edition of Irish Country Living, so stay tuned for that.

Special guest

I don’t know if many of you watched the popular Netflix documentary The Deepest Breath, but soon after I watched the harrowing story about the sport of free-diving, I received a copy of Irish freediver Claire Walsh’s book Under Water: How Holding my Breath Taught Me to Live.

Her story left me speechless and I think her presentation will have the same effect on our Women & Agriculture attendees. In her early 30s she made the decision to leave behind all she knew in Ireland.

What she found was freediving and she created a whole new life for herself. We will be sharing more of Claire’s story in the lead up to the conference, but her presentation – it’s safe to say – will be a powerful one.

Her story left me speechless and I think her presentation will have the same effect on our Women & Agriculture attendees. In her early 30s she made the decision to leave behind all she knew in Ireland.

Taste of what’s to come

These three presenters mentioned are just a few of our full line-up, which we will be releasing in the coming weeks, including our keynote presentation. As always, curating this conference is a labour of love and something we put considerable effort into each year.

We want our women to walk away inspired, invigorated and ready to take on whichever challenges are launched their way. Now that I consider myself a full-fledged women in ag, this is the community where I want to put in my effort – to give back some of the kindness, hospitality and support I have been shown over the years. Roll on October!

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Women and Agriculture Conference 2023

The Good Room: going to college, cremation and conference news