Farm Ireland

Monday 28 May 2018

'It's a full-time occupation right up to Sunday'

My week: John Daly

John Daly and his father Jeremiah on their farm at Lisrobin, Kiskeam, Co Cork
John Daly and his father Jeremiah on their farm at Lisrobin, Kiskeam, Co Cork
Jeremiah, his wife Philomena and their children John and Phyllis. Photo: Don Macmonagle

Dairy farmer John Daly is catching up on outstanding farm maintenance work for the year having taken a break a few weeks ago in Nice and Monte Carlo on the French Riviera.

He had booked the holiday with his girlfriend before the terrorist atrocity which was visited upon locals and tourists alike on Bastille Day last July but decided to go ahead anyway with the trip a few weeks ago.

"It is amazing how life gets back to normal after such an event. Life must go on I suppose," John remarked philosophically, though he was somewhat taken aback by the amount of fellow tourists in Nice who were taking 'selfies' along the seashore boulevard where the actual atrocity took place.

"You would imagine people would not do that sort of thing. I was surprised," he added.

John (31) farms in partnership with his father, Jeremiah on the 130 acre family farm near Mallow with some advisory help from mother Philomena, a retired nurse.

The Dalys run a herd of 130 Holstein/Friesians and supply milk to the Kerry group.

The partnership was set up in 2005 when John graduated with his Green Cert from Clonakilty agricultural college and it seems he is only one in a family of nine children who took the farming option.

Three of his siblings - Eugene, Norma and Maria - opted to become chemists and are working in a Limerick pharmacy, a Limerick hospital lab and with the HSE respectively while a second tranche of siblings - Anne, Carmel and Clare - opted to become accountants and work in Cork except for Clare. She made her way to Idaho to do the numbers for the Glanbia operation there.

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His two remaining siblings are also off farm. Eldest sister, Gillian, works in IT while the youngest in the family, Phyllis, has just graduated from teacher's training college in Limerick.

So the mantle of continuing the family's farming tradition, which goes back to the beginning of the last century, falls firmly and squarely on the shoulders of John - though judging by his upcoming workload the word mantle is a very polite way of describing it.

When the farm maintenance and fencing is finished shortly there is the scanning of the cows to be completed and the spreading of fertilizer to ensure a good grass spread for the late autumn.

And then he has to prepare the farm for the return of young heifers who have been contracted out for summer rearing and maintenance to a on a neighbouring farm.

"I contract out about 25 heifers for rearing to a neighbour and find it works out. It's the best option," John explains.

John enjoys the farming life which he describes as a "full time occupation right up to Sunday", but if there is a "pebble in his shoe" about the current situation for dairy farmers, it's the way the abolition of EU milk quotas was handled.

"Everyone seems to have gained except the farmer. Lots of jobs have been created and the co-ops have done well so some people are benefiting, I suppose.

"But it has left the Irish dairy farmer competing with world prices to get a return from their milk," John says.

John's off farm hobbies are very much in line with the terrain he farms.

He is a cyclist through and through and completed the Ring of Kerry earlier this year and when not pedalling across the countryside, he is happy walking the local mountainsides.

That's when he gets a break from his Sunday to Sunday work roster.

In conversation with Ken Whelan

Indo Farming