I’m from Listowel in north Kerry, so the heart of dairy country. My boyfriend is a dairy farmer, but I don’t come from a dairy background at all. I come from a beef background, so I do.

I don’t mind calves, feeding and all that sort of thing, but one thing I won’t do is go near the milking machine. I think it’s the best way to have it, to be honest.

I loved being out on the farm growing up. If I got wind of the vet calling for TB testing or anything at all, there was no way I was going to school, there wasn’t a hope. I was always outside trucking around with dad and my uncles.

I did a bit of hunting with the North Kerry Harriers in my secondary school days as well, so I always had a keen interest in animals and farming. I loved being outdoors, I’m not an indoors person at all. I was constantly out in all weathers.

My cousin has the farm now, carrying between 20-30 beef animals in the year. It could change from year-to-year. That’s the thing when you have drystock, it can vary depending on the market. And look, I’d be there to help whenever they need it.

School struggles

All the way up, I didn’t mind school, then I hit fifth year and sixth year, I had no interest to be honest. I had a poor Leaving Cert, I did pass-level everything.

I did my Leaving Cert for the sake of doing it, to keep the peace at home, because if I didn’t there’d have been holy war. I just didn’t really have any interest in school for a finish.

What probably was the biggest thing for me in sixth year was that I knew I didn’t want to go to college or university straight away. I thought I wanted to do veterinary nursing, but because I didn’t do any science in school, so I couldn’t.

I had to do a post-Leaving Cert (PLC) course, so I did the animal care course in Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co Limerick. I got my science and maths bases from that.

Lucky enough, the agricultural science course actually started up in IT Tralee the same year that I finished the PLC course in 2012

I did a fantastic placement through the PLC course in a veterinary practice here in Listowel. I learned a lot and realised I didn’t want to be stuck inside. I knew that veterinary nursing wasn’t for me from doing that course.

Lucky enough, the agricultural science course actually started up in IT Tralee the same year that I finished the PLC course in 2012. Well, it’s Munster Technical University (MTU) Kerry campus now, but it’ll always be the IT to me

So I applied for that course and I got into it. I graduated with an honours degree in 2016.

Working away

After college I was lucky enough to get a job as an auditor with Bord Bia in north Kerry, so I’ve never been too far away from home, thank God. I’m one of the lucky ones, to be honest.

I got an experience there, and there’s no book in the world that would teach you what I learned from that job. You meet every sort of a person, from every walk of life.

I was out of work for a small while and I actually went back waitressing for a bit. I fell into doing a bit of distance education work in Salesian Agricultural College, Pallaskenry. I was in Castleisland Mart for a small while. In November 2019, I was assigned a post with the Department of Agriculture in Kerry.

I’m working as a technical agricultural officer with the Department of Agriculture. The main thing I’m doing at the moment is the badger vaccination programme for TB. It’s interesting anyway. I didn’t think I’d ever fall into a role like this, and here I am.

Never in my life – until I joined the Department – did I have anything to do with a badger

I wouldn’t be staying in a job for the salary if I didn’t love it, to be honest. That wouldn’t be a factor one bit for me. At the end of the day, it (money) is not the be all and end all. Being happy in your job, enjoying it and learning are so important.

Like I said, I’m in the badger vaccination programme. Never in my life – until I joined the Department – did I have anything to do with a badger. Now I’m learning something new about them every day.

For anyone struggling with what to do after school, the first thing I would say is to take no notice of their peers around them. You’re your own person and doing what makes you happy is very important.

The second thing is, I can’t stress it enough how many PLC courses there are. Really if you think you want to do something and you’re unsure, they’re there. I would honestly recommend anyone to go into one. It’s 12 months. At the age of 17 leaving secondary school, how can you choose what you want to do for the rest of your life?

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