22/04/2022. ICL. Pictured is Gabrielle Power at the Greenway at Kilmeaden Train Station, Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford. Gabrielle is the manager of the Glanbia Co-op branch in Kilmeaden. Picture: Patrick Browne

I live out in Kill. It’s about 13 miles from Waterford city, out near the coast. When we were in the 5km lockdown, I could go to Kilmurrin Beach.

My brother runs the dairy farm that we were reared on and my sister is farming, she has drystock. So I’m steeped in farming and I’m 33 years here in the Kilmeaden branch of Glanbia Agribusiness in June. I’ve been the branch manager for 21 of those years.

I loved growing up on the farm, milking the cows and feeding the calves. I had a pony and we used to hunt. My uncle had the hounds for 25 years, he started the local hunt.

Farming was a different life then. I’ve a son who farms with my brother below and I’m always joking telling him, “Sure ye’ve no work to do now.”

I started in the branch covering maternity leave and I’m here since. My grandfather started the co-op here. My father was a big co-op man and his father before him. I’d be big into the co-op too. I’ve pride in what we do.

I know all the farmers coming in here with years. Paying the bill could take half an hour or 45 minutes by the time you have the chat. The younger lads now would be more direct debit. The older farmers like to come in, have the chat and meet people.

They trust you and they’d have respect for you. It took a bit of time when I became branch manager, that it was a woman who was running the branch. But look, they came around to that.

With me, when I say it’s a deal, it’s a deal. There’s always plenty of haggling in here. Every day in here is a different day. I could get a phone call and what I was going to do for the day, it could be totally different. It’s great, there’s good variety.

A running recovery

I always used to tip away running by myself. I had two young kids on my own and I just wanted to get out. I’d ask my mother to mind them for 20 or 30 minutes and I’d go for a run. It was the easiest thing then when you hadn’t much time, put the runners on and go out the gate.

I had an operation nine years ago, the October Bank Holiday weekend. I had a bulging disc and I said, “I’m going to run a marathon now in two years time after the operation.” And that’s what I did. I ran my first marathon in Dublin two years later.

I said I wanted to run one marathon and I’d be happy. Now I’ve done Rotterdam, Antwerp, Cork and Dublin a good few times.

I’ve been with Saturday Road Runners for about seven years. They were on the go a few years before that. It took me a while of “will I, won’t I?” before I actually went, but it’s the best thing I ever did getting in with that group.

We’re between Waterford and Tramore, we meet in both places. We’ve city and country folk. We throw €2 in the bucket on a Saturday and every so often we pick a charity to donate it to. We’re not affiliated to anything.

There was about 60 of us in Saturday Road Runners at one stage, every level was catered for. COVID-19 knocked back the numbers a bit. We’re not back fully yet.

Everyone helps everyone. The marathon, some people do sub three hours and then there could be someone that takes five hours, but everyone congratulates everyone.

I’ll stay with the running, anyway. I’m in for the Chicago Marathon, we’ll run it next year. We’ll do Dublin this year. My mother says to my daughter after every marathon, “I’d say that will be the last.” And Lucy just goes, “Yeah right nanny.”

Run Ireland

Some of us in Saturday Road Runners are undertaking ‘Run Ireland in 72 hours’. It’s in aid of the Waterford and South Kilkenny branch of Down Syndrome Ireland. We’re hoping to raise €32,000 for an education programme they want to launch.

For the challenge, all of us will run a 5km in each of the 32 counties in three days. We’ll start on a Friday morning and we’ll work our way up the country.

We’ll stay in Dundalk the first night and then we’ll be staying in Ballinasloe the second night. We’ll come back down then and we’ll finish in Waterford Sunday evening.

There’ll be 18 of us on a bus. One of the lads works as an accountant and he has all the routes marked out. It’ll be 160km by the time we get back to Waterford.

We’ll have good craic now. No one takes anything too seriously. You’d want to have a thick neck. As I say: “I’m okay, I’m used to that here in the branch.” You wouldn’t want to be shy in the branch, not with fertiliser nearly €1,000 a tonne. It nearly broke my heart to be talking about it.

We’ve had so many challenges in the co-op at this stage between Foot and Mouth, COVID-19 and the closing of the cheese factory.

They even picketed me here one time about the price of milk. I think I was the only co-op picketed at that time. We got through all of those, so I’m sure we’ll get through this one.

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