'Healthwise life is much, much better - I was drained and wrecked'
Published 20/09/2016 | 02:30
Walking around his 200 acre farm located close to Slane, the Hill of Tara and Newgrange, it's no surprise that Eddie Downey describes his life as "wonderful".
He runs a highly commercial chicken, tillage and suckler enterprise. His 25,000 chickens lay over 20,000 eggs a day, which are exported mostly to the UK.
Although he cherishes every minute he spent at the helm of the IFA, starting and finishing the working day by his own clock is a welcome change.
"I get up at 7am and go down to the chicken houses and work for the day. I could stop at 4 in the afternoon or 7 in the evening, but I decide. I used to be gone to meetings in Brussels at 5.30 in the morning," he said.
He recalls regular instances where he'd arrive home from meetings in Galway at 2am and be on a plane to Brussels by 6am.
"I'm definitely more relaxed. The only stress I have now is farming and I can assure people who think that is a stressful life it is relaxing in comparison to what I was at. Healthwise life is much, much better, I was drained, wrecked, I was at the stage where I think that contributed to the fact that I just pulled the plug, I was that tired from everything," he said.
His wife Mary, daughter Alice and son Patrick are also delighted to see more of him.
"My family didn't like me being the president of IFA because I was never around, I was always gone. They actually hated the IFA from that point of view but they were very proud of the job I was doing," he said.
He also makes time to enjoy a pint in his local pub, a tradition he maintained throughout his tenure in the IFA.
He still attends IFA county executive meetings, was at a recent farmers protest in Drogheda over the grain imports and has visited the farm centre on a few occasions.
He also hopes to secure a position on the FBD board as the IFA representative. He was nominated by Joe Healy. "I could do a good job there, I'd bring farm knowledge, farmers' viewpoint and a business attitude," he said.