by Matt English, Kawartha Junior Farmers
Following a busy first week, I then moved to Wexford county to start the second week. My host was Emmet Kehoe, his family milked 77 cows on 190 acres. I visited Wexford town, Curracloe beach (Saving Private Ryan was filmed here), Johnstown castle, the Irish Agricultural Museum and a bird sanctuary. I moved onto Laois county and my hosts were James Barber and Micheal Holohan. I visited the local sale barn and attended an Irish concert. My week ended by attending a Macra training meeting for members from the local club’s executives.
My third week and final week I moved to Cork county and Colin O’Leary met and toured us around the town of Cork. It was a very picturesque town with beautiful churches and scenery. I visited Blarney castle and gardens and made sure to kiss the Blarney stone! I attended a renewable energy conference with Macra President James Healy and moved to my next host Gerard Griffin. I visited a local dairy farm that had the highest production throughout Ireland that I had been too. Gerard toured me around Kildalton College which is an agricultural college where he teaches. I met Cara O’Mahony and we traveled to the city of Waterford, which is the oldest city in Europe and was settled by the Vikings. We toured Waterford Crystal and Reginalds Tower. I then traveled to Kilkenny where we toured the Smithwicks brewery and I met my last host David King. We traveled to his home in Kildare County, where his family milks 150 cows. My last day was spent touring the Guinness factory, the Irish National Stud Farm and Gardens, and a local pig and beef farm. My exchange had come to an end after 3 amazing weeks in Ireland!
This exchange was the most incredible experience of my life. It allowed me to see some of the most stunning scenery, and meet so many people that I can now call friends. It allowed me the opportunity to learn about agricultural practices in Ireland, and how they differ from Canada. I was able to learn about Macra Na Feirme and how it works, in order to bring back ideas to our local club and JFAO. This was my first time travelling outside Canada by myself and it allowed me to step outside my comfort zone. The hospitality I received throughout my exchange was second to none, and I want to thank all my host families. I also want to thank JFAO and Macra Na Feime for this once in a lifetime opportunity, and I would highly recommend this exchange to anybody!