Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 23 July 2017

Beef farmer on managing a 250ac farm and its 280 pedigree Charolais cattle

My week: Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus with his son Shéa on the Enniscrone farm Darragh manages for the Boston-based Feeney brothers. Photo: Brian Farrell
Darragh McManus with his son Shéa on the Enniscrone farm Darragh manages for the Boston-based Feeney brothers. Photo: Brian Farrell

Ken Whelan

Farm manager Darragh McManus is busy picking this year's show team from the renowned Bostonia Herd.

The pair of Charolais stock charged with representing the herd - which is based in Dromore West, Enniscrone, Co Sligo - at the upcoming Balmoral Show are Gretna House Lord and Bostonia Machine

Darragh has managed the 250ac farm and its 280 pedigree cattle for the past year and is quietly confident of a good showing season - particularly when it comes to the business end of proceedings at the Tullamore Show and Ploughing Championships.

"It's not all about rosettes but they help," the 32-year-old Enniskillen native comments.

"The herd won rosettes at the Christmas Cracker show in Elphin with top female Bustara Joy, but this year we are aiming for rosettes at the Tullamore Show," Darragh adds.

Darragh is in the unusual position of working for bosses who are based across the Atlantic, with the farm and herd owned by the Feeney brothers who live and work in Boston.

The latest additional to the herd, Gretna House Lord, bought in Stirling, last Scotland for close to €30,000.
The latest additional to the herd, Gretna House Lord, bought in Stirling, last Scotland for close to €30,000.

The main decisions on the Enniscrone farm are taken jointly with the owners, who return home about four times a year to make the breeding and selling options associated with the enterprise.

"We keep in touch by email and phone every month, so they are up to date on what is happening. And of course they come home to Enniscrone a few times a year. It works well," Darragh says.


Currently, the graduate of Greenmount College is flat out ensuring that the embryo and semen sale side of the pedigree operation is running smoothly.

"You have great days and stressful days, but things are good here. The farm washes its face from an operational point of view which is good," he points out.

The latest breeding acquisition at Enniscrone was the Balmoral-bound Gretna House Lord. The bull was purchased in Scotland for £25,000 or close to €30,000.

Sales of stock from the Bostonia Herd are usually handled through Dowra Mart in Co Cavan. Recent prices for pedigree bulls from the herd have ranged from €6,200 to €10,200/hd.

Darragh lives on the farm with his wife Ciara and the couple's two children, Shea (9) and Fionn (3).

He got the job as farm manager for the Feeneys after reading a recruitment advert online, having previously honed his skills as a stockman at a large farm in Leicestershire, England.

The Feeney brothers, Brendan and Greg, emigrated to the United States in the early 1980s and later established and developed a construction and utility company in the Dorchester suburb of Boston. They currently employ over 400 workers.

The brothers took over the home farm when their dad, John, passed away and have expanded it over the years.

Both are regular visitors to the home farm during the pedigree showing season. Indeed, they are next due in Enniscrone later this month when the continued development of the herd will be discussed.

Darragh is noncommittal when asked how the season will go for the Bostonia Herd.

"We'll see how we go at Balmoral first," he replies - but with the air of a man who reckons it could be good.


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