'Seeing less privileged places makes you grateful for what you have at home'
Published 22/06/2016 | 02:30
One of the criticisms thrown at farmers and their successors is that they are always in too much of a panic to get back home.
And while no-one can accuse the Teagasc Student of the Year Damien McGrath of not having a strong desire to get home to start farming full-time, he certainly got a flavour of the outside world on the way.
"When I finished the green cert in Mountbellew, I went to work for Bord Bia as a beef quality assurance inspector," says the 29-year-old from just one mile outside Tuam in north Galway.
While the plan was always to return home to the 160ac farm, the Galwegian also had a burning ambition to serve his time in the Army.
"I knew that I had to do it when I was young, or never at all, so I signed up to be a recruit based out of Galway," says McGrath.
Two years later he found himself stationed in the war-torn central African country of Chad, where he served with the UN troops for six months.
"It was tough because you had no technology out there to communicate with home. All you could do was read a book.
"But it was a great life experience. Seeing less privileged parts of the world really makes you grateful for what you have back home," he says of his time there.