1. Deirdre O’Shea - Agri Aware
It has been a meteoric rise for Deirdre O’Shea. A daughter and a sister of Co Laois pig farmers, O’Shea graduated from UCD before working in the banking sector. She carved out her name as the IFA’s pig executive and is now the boss at Agri Aware. Who better to start our list?
Deirdre O’Shea in action.
2. Kevin Moran - dairy farmer
Moran was the 2016 FBD Young Farmer of the Year. The Co Mayo man farming in Co Galway is the youngest of 11. After being rejected by the bank nine times for a loan before getting going, Moran has developed into a serious operator and milks over 200 cows now.
3. Roberta McDonald - Aurivo
Staying in the west, Roberta McDonald is the farm profitability manager for Aurivo. Although from Co Offaly, Roberta has made her name advising farmers in the west. She’s a graduate of UCD, has a PhD from Teagasc Moorepark and was a 2016 Nuffield scholar.
Roberta McDonald addressing the masses.
4. Marcus O’Halloran - IFA and UCD
Tipperary native Marcus O’Halloran is a development executive for the IFA in Donegal, but he made his name in UCD. While in his alma mater, O’Halloran was elected president of the students’ union. Not such a big deal? Well, he was the first agriculture student to hold the position.
5.Eddie Daly - Alltech
This midlands man is part of the revolution happening at Keenan Alltech. Alltech bought the feeder wagon company out of receivership and has turned around its fortunes. From a dairy farm in Co Westmeath, Daly is a account manager there and is helping CEO Robbie Walker drive the business.
6. Matthew Murphy - Newford Farm
Back to the west for Matthew Murphy. Managing a 100-cow, suckler-to-beef farm is a hard job anyway but add in that your bosses include Dawn Meats. Matthew is running the Newford demonstration herd in Athenry which is overseen by Dawn, Teagasc, the Irish Farmers Journal and McDonald’s. A worthy entrant on the list.
7. Paidí Kelly - Teagasc
Anyone who knows Paidí knows that he’s a force of nature. From a Co Tipperary dairy farm, Paidí started off in the Irish Farmers Journal before moving on to rip up trees in Teagasc on the whole area of labour. Not busy enough? He co-runs a big farm in Limerick now. Handy hurler too, we’re told.
8. Ian Finneran - Aurivo
No one could accuse us of having an anti-west of Ireland agenda. We’re travelling to Boyle in Co Roscommon this time and to Ian Finneran. Ian is the procurement specialist at Aurivo agribusiness. He’s the man buying the feed for Aurivo and has an ag science degree from UCD.
9. Maeve O’Keeffe - Inspect4Hoof
It was no surprise that Maeve would turn out to be the entrepreneur that she is. Coming from a ferociously enterprising family in east Cork, Maeve is the brains behind the Inspect4Hoof machine that makes it easier to tend to animals’ hooves. She also has a Nuffield scholarship.
10. Úna Sinnott - UCD
Some people are destined for great things. Co Wexford UCD ag student Úna Sinnott is one of those. From a beef and sheep farm, Úna has excelled at sporting life, playing senior level camogie for her county, and in academia. As a first-year student, she captained the victorious UCD debating team in the Great Agri-Food Debate. She also writes for the Irish Farmers Journal.
Úna Sinnott with some of her followers.
11. Thomas Duffy - Macra and dairy farmer
Moving to Co Cavan, Thomas Duffy is a dairy farmer from outside Virginia. He also the vice-chair of Macra’s influential ag affairs committee. Not one for being shy about engaging in a debate, Duffy is considered to be one of the brightest in Macra and is a ferocious advocate of what he believes in.
12. Marie Martin - MPM Safety Equip
Marie Martin founded MPM Safety Equip Ltd when she invested the Safe Scrub Sprayer as a transition-year project. It was in response to her father becoming ill after using pesticides. Her invention has won national and local awards and the Dingle woman has received mentorship from the likes of Denis O’Brien.
13. Robert Keatley - Ulster Young Farmer of the Year
From a sheep and beef farm near Castlederg, Co Tyrone, Keatley won the YFCU’s Ulster Young Farmer of the Year competition in 2015 and 2016. After graduating from CAFRE Greenmount and Queen’s University Belfast in 2016, he worked in the pig sector and is now working in a family fencing business.
14. Arthur Callaghan - ABP
The Harper Adams graduate has been managing ABP’s dairy calf to beef programme in Northern Ireland, known as Blade Farming, since it was launched in 2015. Callaghan is also involved in supply chain relations with ABP and works on his family farm near Kilkeel, Co Down.
15. Mattie John Kelly - sheep farmer
The sheep sector is criticised for not attracting young blood into it. However, Co Roscommon farmer Mattie John Kelly is bucking that trend. Having finished the Green Cert in 2011, Kelly has grown the flock in Dysart from 200 ewes and 70 ewe lambs in 2009 to 420 ewes and 80 ewe lambs in 2017. He’s exactly what the sector needs.
Mattie John Kelly.
16. Colm O’Leary - dairy farmer
The son of former IFA deputy president Tim and Irish County Living writer Katherine, Colm O’Leary is a name in his own right. He’s the driving force behind the family’s dairy farm in Cork and is part of the new Nuffield scholarship class.
Aldi in Munich, Germany selling a generic "Irish butter" alongside Kerrygold. 14c/100g cheaper.— Colm O Leary (@colmtoleary) December 19, 2017
I wonder which co-op is selling this and how the costs/revenues breakdown. pic.twitter.com/F9m9lNxqd6
17. Kieran McDermott - dairy farmer
Staying with progressive and young dairy farmers, Kieran McDermott is doing his thing in Monaghan. Supplying LacPatrick, McDermott has been a vocal member of Macra na Feirme, where he sits on the national council. He farms with his parents near Clones on the Monaghan/Fermanagh border.
18. John Morahan - sheep farmer
Another sheep entrant is award-winning farmer John Morahan. From Kilmaine in Co Mayo, Morahan’s flock has won plenty of rosettes at various Mayo Mule and Greyface sheep breeders’ shows over the years. He’s a young and progressive farmer and is the brother-in-law of world famous shearer Ivan Scott.
19. Fiona McGovern - Teagasc
Staying with the sheep sector and the west of Ireland, Fiona McGovern was a cert for the list. Based in Teagasc Athenry, McGovern is driving the Ireland and New Zealand Across Country Comparison (INZAC) research programme. Fiona graduated from UCD in 2012 and has a PhD from UCD on Animal Science.
20. Dr Amanda Dunn - Bonanza Calf Nutrition
Dunn is working as sales and technical manager at Bonanza Calf Nutrition. She is from Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, and completed a PhD in calf health and immunity development at AFBI Hillsborough in 2016.
21. Karen Elliffe - beef farmer
The 2016 Queen of the Land was Karen Elliffe. She’s a beef farmer in Co Westmeath. Karen buys in calves, bringing them to beef. As well as winning the Queen of the Land in 2016, Karen also raised the profile of women farmers when she appeared on The Late Late Show in 2017.
22. Christopher Tuffy - dairy farmer
Twenty-six-year-old Co Sligo dairy farmer Christopher Tuffy has grown his herd from 90 to 152 cows in the past five years through expanding the land base. He runs a Jersey–Friesian crossbred herd which was averaging 4.35% fat and 3.57% protein this year. He farms in partnership with his father Tom J, who sits on the board of Aurivo.
23. Shane McAuliffe - InterChem and pig farmer
Seven farms, working for InterChem, prolific tweeter, part of the Truly Irish family, Shane McAuliffe was an obvious choice for the list. He is also the youngest person to sit on any IFA committee. He’s 27 and is on the pig committee.
24. Niamh Bambrick - Glanbia
Another camogie star making waves in agriculture is Niamh Bambrick. Niamh is a business manager with Glanbia, an ASA council member and pucks the sliotar for Kilkenny. She’s also the daughter of IFA’s Kilkenny chair Johnny Bambrick.
25. Richard Primrose - Bank of Ireland
The Fermanagh man joined Bank of Ireland in 2015 and became manager of the bank’s NI agri team earlier this year. Primrose is a beef farmer from Fivemiletown, Co Fermanagh and studied agriculture at CAFRE Greenmount and Queen’s University Belfast.
26. Ashleigh Fennell - drystock farming
Another sheep entrant on the list is Co Carlow farmer Ashleigh Fennell. Ashleigh farms sheep and drystock in Palatine. She, like Karen Elliffe, was outspoken about women in farming on RTÉ’s television programme The Late Late Show early in 2017 and is known for her views on the Tweet machine.
27. James McKay - Ulster Young Farmer of the Year
The Ulster Young Farmer of the Year trophy stayed in Tyrone again in 2017 when James McKay took the honours. McKay has been farming full-time on his family farm near Omagh since he graduated from CAFRE Greenmount in 2013.
James McKay, left, accepting his award.
28. Sarah Armstrong - beef and pedigree
Operating under the farmingmadire Twitter handle, Co Cavan young farmer Sarah Armstrong was a sure fire candidate for the list. A Charolais, Limousin and Hereford pedigree breeder, Armstrong is no stranger to shows or marts across the country, even though she’s still in secondary school. She’s also a keen photographer, as you’ll see below.
29. Peter Thomas Keaveney - UCD
PTK is currently a final-year student in UCD and is the auditor of Ag Soc. He’s also from a 100+ cow suckler farm in Galway, runs a contracting business with his father, played inter-county football and is involved in amateur dramatics at home. I’m tired just writing that.
Peter Thomas Keaveney on the right.
30. John Heslin - Teagasc
Last but by no means least is Co Westmeath beef farmer John Heslin. Heslin is the research officer for suckler-beef systems in Teagasc Grange. He’s also a serious footballer for his native county. Some lads have it all.