Breaking the mould - meet the women running the livestock marts
Ann Fitzgerald talks to three women who have proven their mettle in the male-dominated world of the marts
Ask anyone to pick the most macho part of the macho business of farming, and they would probably not look past a mart.
Yet, without the benefit of gender quotas or the invocation of other forms of positive discrimination, women now run about 10pc of the country's livestock marts.
One of those leading the way is Marion Devane in Tuam, Co Galway. She arrived at the mart door 37 years ago … and basically never left.
Marion was on a Fás course and needed to get experience. The manager at the time, Tim Relihan, took her on. She worked on the desk for 27 years and then, 10 years ago, took over as manager when she was asked to do so by the chairman. "But if the job went up, no way would I have gone for it, she says.
Marion herself cringes at the thought of being called a "trailblazer".
Indeed, her first response when asked about doing this interview was: "Oh, God, no, I wouldn't know what to say. I wouldn't even think of myself as the manager at all, only that you put it to me."
Eimear McGuinness is manager in Donegal. She studied tourism and languages in Killybegs. After her son Odhran was born, she thought that she would like to do part-time work. She started in the mart office in 2003 and took over as manager in 2007.
The mart was being leased at the time and on a downward slope, with talk of closure. Eimear looked to what type of cattle Donegal had to offer. Seeing great quality weanlings, she met exporters, factory and feedlot agents and has built a successful business around them.