My Farming Week: Elaine Smyth, Shinrone, Co Offaly
This week, Una Sinnott talks to veterinary nurse, sheep breeder and faithful county farmer Elaine Smyth.

I farm: “A flock consisting of 100 ewes in Shinrone, Co Offaly. I love the farming life and find sheep enjoyable to work with.”

Family first: “I get great support from my mum and dad, Brendan and Georgina, and my brother Adrian. Although our flocks are completely separate, we work together getting the work done.”

Breeds: “Most of my ewes are Texel crosses. I have a Beltex ram which I find brings brilliant conformation to my lambs during growth. My parents had a Suffolk ram in the past but we found the lambs at birth were slow to suckle and get going. The Beltex is like the Belgian Blue of the sheep world in my view. I love the white face of the Texel sheep and find that they have a higher resistance to parasites.”

Working woman: “I work as a veterinary nurse in Tipperary town four days a week which allows me to fulfil my farming commitments during the remainder of the week. I find that having veterinary experience is a great advantage to running a farm enterprise. I’m a firm believer in preventative health care. To me, a healthy sheep is a happy sheep.”

Being prepared: “Being a part-time farmer, I find that I need to be extra-prepared for farming seasons such as the lambing season. I try to take the minimum amount of days off work during this time and hence need to compact my lambing. I engage in forward planning and recently met with my vet to do a flock health plan for the 2019 breeding season; less problems mean less labour on the farm for me and this is vital.”

Quotable quote: “I think we are all great for making to-do lists but it’s really important to include ourselves in that list and take time out for relaxation.”

Read more

My Farming Week: Eamon Cassells, Athboy, Co Meath

My Farming Week: Colin Bateman, Timoleague, Co Cork

My Farming Week: Joe Toomey, Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow

Nearly 300 agricultural science students hit top Leaving Cert marks
Nearly 8,000 students sat agricultural science in the Leaving Cert this year, with a third of students at higher level achieving 70% or greater.

Of the 6,543 students who sat higher-level agricultural science, 295 (4.5%) have achieved the highest possible grade of one, which has replaced an A1. Since 2017, Leaving Certificate students are graded from one to eight, with one equalling 90% to 100%, two equalling 80% to 90% and so on.


In total, 57,149 students sat the Leaving Certificate, down 2.4% on the year before. Of this, 7,780 students sat agricultural science with nearly 80% of students opting to sit the higher level paper.

A grade of three was the most common result in the higher-level exam, with nearly 19% of candidates achieving this result. Over a third of students received a grade three or greater.

A grade of six was the most common at ordinary level, with 28% of students receiving this mark. It was closely followed by a grade five at 24%.


The State Examinations Commission (SEC) has said that this year’s results are broadly in line with those obtained in 2017. They have reminded all candidates that detailed information about viewing their scripts and appealing their results can be found in the 2018 candidate information booklet.

A helpline will be operating from early on 15 August to provide information and advice to students and parents. The helpline number operated by the National Parents’ Council is 1800 265 165

The farmer’s daily wrap: UK short on fodder too and calls for import scheme
Read all about the top five farming stories and check out the weather outlook for Wednesday 14 August.

Weather forecast

Tonight will be cloudy and misty, with rain and drizzle extending gradually to most areas, according to Met Éireann. It will be mild and humid, with hill and coastal fog.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, will be mostly cloudy in Munster and Leinster, with scattered outbreaks of rain and drizzle. Drier conditions will develop in much of Connacht and Ulster, with a few bright spells for a time. Outbreaks of showery rain will develop in the west and northwest later. Maximum temperatures will range from 17°C to 22°C.

In the news

  • UK breeders say that fodder shortages are also a major concern for them.
  • Fianna Fáil has called for the a fodder import subsidy to be up and running immediately.
  • The first shipment of Northern Irish beef has landed in the Philippines.
  • Kerry has set the price for its forward milk price scheme.
  • Calls have been made for signs warning motorists to watch out for cyclists to be placed on rural roads.
  • Coming up this Wednesday

  • See the latest Tullamore Farm update.