“You better call him off my phone, he might not answer a number he doesn’t know.”

These were the words I said to my husband as he left the room that Sunday night. His voice faded as he walked out of earshot but I heard him say, “No, Justin, it’s actually Richard.”

That was five years ago. The previous Friday, I completed the Swim for A Mile (SFAM) challenge and with the second round interview for the role of Irish Country Living editor on Monday morning, I had prep to do.

I didn’t, however, make the interview that Monday as on that Sunday, I discovered that my baby girl – whom I was 20 weeks pregnant with – had died.

Justin’s response to Richard that evening – and his support in reorganising my interview a few weeks later – set the tone for my time at the Irish Farmers Journal, best described as ‘bumpy at times but very supportive.’


COVID-19 has changed the way we work and has brought staff morale to the fore. Research (Achievers) shows that “employee morale is not all about perks; it’s about communication, culture, being heard, and being supported personally and professionally”. A month after that phone call, I had my interview. Three months later, I was in situ in the Irish Farm Centre, and 23 months later we were in COVID-19. Bumpy!

It did take me 60 months though to get back in the pool. A few weeks ago, five years on, I completed my second SFAM and as I swam the 64 lengths, my thoughts, as they were the previous time, were moving to a new role and a new phase in life.

My swim reminded me of a reader letter we printed asking for women’s sports to be covered more regularly. “I read your article encouraging women over 40 to take up sport and exercise and I think to myself, ‘how can they when they don’t even know that female sports is a thing?’”

Like with my swimming, there are many reasons why women and girls move away from physical activity. Maria, Janine and I discussed this subject on the latest edition of our The Good Room podcast. To further bolster coverage, we are also starting a series, Women in Action, which will showcase physical activities women partake in. If your club or activity might spark someone’s interest, please get in touch with Janine (jakennedy@farmersjournal.ie) who will be acting editor over the coming months.

In my very first editorial, I spoke about my predecessor Mairead Lavery and her role as an advocate for women and also for me; it read: “She encouraged me and sponsored me to go for a job that in hindsight, I should have done but I let the ‘can’t dos’ reign over Mairead’s ‘can do’.”

Bumpy roads

That stuck with me. Many roads are bumpy and potholes are unavoidable but we learn from the experience, mend the wheel and keep driving on, personally and professionally.

So while my recent swim time won’t see me picked for any competitive teams, it was somewhat symbolic for me; a bookend for the beginning and the end of my time in the Irish Farmers Journal.

At the start of Pride month and our related coverage, all I can say is “Tá Bród orm.”

I want to thank Justin for saying; “tell her to call me when she is ready” on that fateful night five years ago, my own team and the wider Irish Farmers Journal family for supporting all that the Irish Country Living team has achieved over my time here. Been a blast.

Read more

Editorial: the prioritisation great trade-off

Editorial: Policy vying for a better world without a sting in the tail