Alfo Farm Services in Trim is far from being a bookshop. It’s a farmer’s shop where you’ll find anything from monkey nuts to animal feeds and from check shirts to general hardware.

You’d get the horsey set in it and lots of dairy farmers for rubber mats and drafting gates and that kind of thing.

Yet despite having little affinity with fellow country folk of either of these persuasions, I’ve been a happy regular for years. After all, a single dairy farmer is grand but a herd of them is unbearable.

So, Alfco currently stocks just two books. It’s sound reasoning; stock two good ones and customers won’t have to go anywhere else for their reading material. The first book is Till – Farming Stories from the Plains of Meath by yours truly and the second is a hardback titled Warrenstown Remembered, which is a history of the college.

On the basis that writers, myself included, need your few euro to survive, I bought a copy of this beautiful book.

Even if I was never to open it, I’d feel good for buying it.

But Warrenstown Remembered is much more than that. I got stuck into it that evening and became so enthralled Mrs P had to get a tyre lever to prise it out of my hands when supper was ready. I’m not even a past pupil of Warrenstown College.

I could have done time there but I did do an interview for Mellowes in Athenry but that ended there.

You see, Gurteen College was out. My father had employed a young prodigy of that establishment who persuaded him that pigs were the future.

Stone buildings were tastefully converted into a small piggery.

Alas, the pigs only lasted about six months and father dismissed Mr Pig himself and cursed Gurteen – no son of his would ever be sent there.

Though I’m not sure Dad was right. Many of our biggest farmers today have pigs.

It was a great time to be a young farmer with exciting years ahead

Anyhow, I was sent over to the pig-free Royal Agricultural College in England where I did a two-year diploma course, which had a hugely formative effect on me and my agricultural education.

It was a great time to be a young farmer with exciting years ahead. Would I like to be a young farmer starting out today? No, I don’t think so.

But back to Warrenstown. It opened 100 years ago in 1923 on the heavy and largely north-facing 500ac Co Meath farm that was bequeathed to the Salesians.

Irish Free State

The Irish Free State was in its infancy and the need was great to educate young farmers in modern techniques and national self-sufficiency.

The agricultural school regrettably closed in 2001 when the drift of young people away from a farming career began.

But over the years, Warrenstown educated more than 8,000 young farmers, many of whom went on to become very well-known and respected people in the community and in Irish agriculture.

There was the horticultural school as well, despite the fact that the farm was not really suited to vegetable production.

But that was no bad thing. It provided a sound education for growing field scale vegetables and its alumni reads like a who’s who of potato and vegetable producers in Meath. Well known farming families like the Sheridans, Reynolds, Carpenters, Guys, Lenehans, McCormacks and many others all cut their teeth in Warrenstown.

So that’s Warrenstown College, about which I would know little without this interesting and beautifully compiled book. I don’t think my book, Till, will educate you to the same degree but, hey, it’s a bit of fun and I need the money after a middling harvest. And besides, a few bob is being donated to charity (