Sister Lily joins the Grass Gals all-female silage crew for charity
Sister Lily Scullion, from St Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, Co Waterford, is the newest recruit to the all-female silage crew which is aiming to set a Guinness world record on 19 August.
She will join a team of 40 women who will mow, rake and draw 30ac of silage in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society at Mount Melleray Abbey next month.
Sister Lily is no stranger to a tractor, being the farm manager at St Mary’s 200ac Glencairn Abbey.
“We keep B&B cattle, 50 suckler cows and calves,” she told the Irish Farmers Journal. “We’ve got 23 ewes, 39 lambs and 11 hoggets at the moment. We also have some ground in tillage – winter wheat and beans.”
“There is 40ac in natural woodland and we planted 26ac of miscanthus which we grow to heat the abbey. We put in a biomass boiler in October 2015. There is fantastic heat from it.”
We reared replacement heifers for the Cistercian monks in Mount Melleray
St Mary’s Abbey had a dairy herd until around eight years ago.
“The cows were gone when I came to the farm,” recalled Sister Lily. “I was put on the farm here to bring us back out of debt. We had been paying people to work here but it meant we made nothing.”
“After the cows went, we kept beef cattle for a while and we reared replacement heifers for the Cistercian monks in Mount Melleray but they changed their system so that finished.”
The monks in Mount Melleray, which is 12 miles from Glencairn, now have their herd and land leased to Daniel O’Donnell, who has donated more than 30ac of his grass to the fundraising event on 19 August.
Sister Lily has farming in her blood, having been reared on a farm in Co Antrim.
“I worked at home on the farm until my mother died,” she told the Irish Farmers Journal. “I wanted to study horticulture at Newry College but my father felt farming was not a suitable job for a woman.”
Sister Lily then spent time working with young people in Ballymurphy, Belfast, during the Troubles.
Sister Lily farmed at home in Co Antrim and studied horticulture before working with young people in Belfast during the Troubles.
“I worked there in the middle of the guns, bombs and bullets,” she recalled. “When I came to Glencairn, it was such a place of peace in comparison. I’m here 36 years now. Time flies – it feels like only two or three years.”
The Cistercian nun will be one of 40 women recruited by organiser John O’Brien to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Society.
“Please God it will go well,” said Sister Lily.
Mary Coffey, Mount Melleray, Ann O'Brien, Mount Melleray, Kathleen Denn, Cappoquin and Joan Dahill, Glencairn, are some of the 40 Grass Gals recruited by organiser John O'Brien for the Alzheimer's Society fundraiser on 19 August. \ Donal O'Leary