Interview: New Macra CEO vows to grow funding avenues and boost membership
The big interview: Denis Duggan
Denis Duggan's first public appearance with Macra na Feirme was proposing a motion that 'women should be no more than three feet from the kitchen sink' at a debate in Clonoulty parish hall, Co Tipperary.
"Naturally we lost," he jests, but the skills he developed in terms of constructing and asserting a clear and confident opinion in front of a crowd remained with him all the way to Macra headquarters where he now sits as newly-appointed CEO.
Looking around his office at exquisite, antique national trophies - similar in size to the Sam Maguire - for Amateur Drama, Public Speaking and Debating competitions of bygone years, it is hard to overlook the legacy of the voluntary rural youth organisation established in 1944.
Although Mr Duggan doesn't come from an immediately strong farming family (his father used to be a sheep farmer many years ago), he spent his childhood growing up in the dairy and beef stronghold of Burgess, Co Tipperary.
"I had a big interest in farming growing up, I spent all my summers on sheep relief farms nearby, I loved it. As a kid, myself and a pal took over a room in the house with all our Britains tractors and the whole thing laid out, it was a no-go area for my three sisters," he laughed.
He has always been aware of the importance of Macra Na Feirme in rural Ireland.
"When it was announced first I was amazed at the number of colleagues, friends and neighbours, and their parents, wishing me well and recalling their involvement with Macra 20 or 40 or 60 years ago.
"There is a weight of expectation from current membership but also historical members and all the organisations it has had a hand in establishing over a lifetime," said Mr Duggan who was an active Macra member during his college days at LIT Tipperary where he studied sustainable rural development.