On Wednesday 1 August at 7pm, RTÉ’s Nationwide will be broadcast from Aurivo’s Balla Mart in Co Mayo. Popular presenter and women in ag advocate Mary Kennedy will showcase the hard work that goes into running one of Ireland’s top livestock trading points, as well as finding out about the future of our sheep and cattle auctions.

On entry to Balla Mart, the programme team are greeted by the bustling energy of livestock enthusiasts. Whether it’s Tim and Geraldine Davitt’s restaurant at the heart of the establishment, where traders huddle and agree to disagree, over some top-notch grub and friendly service, about the high standards in the ring, Aurivo’s Balla mart is “totally professional”, according to RTÉ’s Mary Fanning.

Adding to the programme, Mary Kennedy auctions off a Belgian Blue heifer for charity. Regulars at Balla Mart reckon auctioning is the presenter’s untouched forté. “The mart goers absolutely loved her. She did a fantastic job on the stand and got them all listening. She was even familiarised with terms such as ‘a hard winter’ and ‘cattle are back a bit on last week’,” Mary Fanning says.

The meeting point for livestock men and women of all ages, marts have felt the pinch from new online animal auctions, particularly amongst younger farmers. As the once youthful faces of mart goers age, the worry is real for the future of Ireland’s sheep and cattle marts. However, meeting characters such as Craig Art Lovette, the 23-year-old auctioneer from Ballyjamesduff, gives hope to Ireland’s mart tradition. Craig, who also appears on the upcoming Nationwide programme, runs a suckler farm, auctions at Balla Mart three days per week and holds the title of Ireland’s jiving champion. The young man’s dedication to Irish farming and its culture is well recognised:

“Everyone at Balla Mart says Craig is the future of livestock auctioneering. He really is quite the phenomenon,” Mary Fanning agrees.

Health and safety developments, another recent change for livestock marts, have been embraced by Martin Walsh and his team. Acutely aware of the dangers around livestock, Balla Mart led the way for safe mart practices across Ireland, with designated walk ways and strict regulations in place for sorting, moving and lairage areas.

Regular Balla Mart goers are revered for their long-term support. Between laughs and squabbles over the years, Balla has become a corner stone in the wider Mayo farming community. Furthering this, general manager Martin Walsh believes livestock marts are a vital part of rural Ireland, which need to be preserved.

Like in most small town, capital created at Balla mart is pumped back into the local community. From farmers and livestock traders, to the town grocer and butcher, each penny from Balla Mart supports the area’s economy.

Serving the needs of local farmers is the hallmark of Aurivo’s Balla mart, Co Mayo. Tune in to Nationwide on Wednesday, 1 August at 7pm to see for yourself. CL