Mayo farmer Sean Coughlan has been awarded a prestigious Nuffield Scholarship.
The internationally-acclaimed scholarship, which is sponsored by Aurivo, was awarded by the Nuffield Ireland Farming Scholarship Trust.
Sean, 35, who farms at Cum, Lahardane, Ballina, is one of just 63 Irish people to be awarded a scholarship since Ireland joined the Nuffield programme in 1996.
He is the second Mayo recipient of the scholarship, following in the footsteps of 33-year-old Ballina dairy farmer Sean O'Donnell.
Mr Coughlan, who is switching from suckler and sheep production to dairying, will examine the knowledge and capital needed for successful dairy farming during his year-long scholarship study.
He has already been to Australia, he attended an international conference of 2014 Nuffield scholars in late February. He is currently planning study tours of Scotland and Wales and, in the autumn, he will travel to the southern hemisphere for a six-week study tour.
Sean was awarded a Certificate in Agriculture from Mountbellew Agricultural College in 1998. In '99, he was awarded a Certificate in Agricultural Mechanics from Reaseheath College, Cheshire.
He worked for engineering company, Roadbridge, for the following seven years, spending two winters travelling in South America, New Zealand and Australia.
He returned to college in 2006 and was awarded an honours degree in business from GMIT. After graduating, he returned to his job in Roadbridge and, in 2012, moved to take over the 110ha family farm.
The farm currently consists of 45 suckler cows and a flock of 300 Mayo blackface ewes. Just 30ha of the farm is good 'greenland' which Sean regards as a big challenge.
However, he is fully committed to the switch and plans to be milking his first dairy cows in spring 2015.
An active member of Macra na Feirme, he is on the association's National Council and is the current chairman of Macra's Agricultural Affairs committee.