'I had as much to say as any man in the room' - Agri Aware CEO Deirdre O'Shea
Agri Aware’s new CEO, Deirdre O’Shea, talks to our reporter about farming, football and her vision for the organisation
Age has never been an obstacle for Deirdre O'Shea.
Sitting comfortably behind her desk as the newly appointed CEO of Agri Aware, the vibrant 27-year-old attributes her extraordinary success to an inner self-belief and drive that has been handed down for generations.
Seven decades ago, her grandfather Michael O'Shea - a distant relative of Kerry football legend Jack O'Shea - journeyed from Cahersiveen on the Iveragh Peninsula to the quaint rural village of Arles in Co Laois to set up a pig farm.
"My desire to achieve is biological. My grandfather bought his first sow in the late 1950s and by 1981 he had 80 sows and was selling weaners. Today my dad has built it up to 2,500 sows," she says.
"He has a very strong drive and work ethic. He never forced it on us, but I observed him closely as a child. I took stock of how he ran the business and I wanted to be like him. His success pushed me to go and do something that would make a difference."
Growing up with four brothers, three of whom are commercial pig farmers, Deirdre never shied away from the hard graft of raising and breeding domestic pigs.
However, the birth of a new litter was always a special time at the homestead - which is divided into several units across Offaly, Carlow and Laois. The O'Sheas produce approximately 65,000 pigs annually. The sows are all Landrace/Large White cross. "Like most women, I was drawn to the farrowing side where the sows are having new piglets - I really enjoyed that area - but I'd have no problem getting stuck in to any job," she says.
Her family's deep-rooted GAA lineage, including two uncles who played for Laois, also rubbed off on the young powerhouse, who has played football at club, college and county level all her life.