Flash floods and high winds couldn’t deter over 630 farming women from attending the Women and Agriculture Conference 2011 at the Lyrath Hotel in Kilkenny last week.
The sold out annual event hosted by the Irish Farmers Journal and the National Dairy Council, and which boasted a large Offaly contingent, delivered on all of its promises to lift spirits by empowering, informing, inspiring and celebrating the role of Irish women in agriculture
Not a word was uttered when Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney took to the stage to speak about farming in the next five years. For over an hour, he discussed the importance of the Suckler Welfare Scheme and protecting our vulnerable beef sector, the role that women can play in farm safety and the need for farm partnerships.
Budgetary management of farm finances was also a very important topic, in which he empathised that female contribution was undervalued.
Other highlights on the day included Caroline Casey who inspired the crowd to take adversity in their stride when she told her moving story about discovering her lifetime sight impairment as a teenager. Dairy farmer Ann Moore moved some to tears when she spoke about growing and building her farm, even when her husband was diagnosed with MS and Nutritionist Paula Mee encouraged the crowd to ‘be selfish’. As gatekeepers for nutrition within the family, she told the crowd that it’s time to concentrate on their own health so they can lead by example.
However, the one act that will keep memories of the conference alive were ‘The Willoughby Brothers’ from Co Wicklow who had the crowd dancing around the conference room, even before lunch with their renditions of ‘Where the Blarney Roses Grow’ and ‘Ireland’s Call.’