President Higgins says farming roots inspired his first two books of poetry

President uses ploughing visit to call on Government to tackle issues like suicide and farm safety

Sarah Stack

President Michael D Higgins has called on the Government to interact with rural communities to tackle issues like suicide and farm safety.

The President said Ireland’s agriculture has made huge contributions to the economy in recent years, with food exports surging by 42pc and thousands of jobs being created.

Opening the Ploughing Championships in Co Laois, he described the event as an enormously important occasion that was not just for rural people.

“It’s probably the occasion when city and country meet and they meet in huge numbers,” he said.

Mr Higgins said while the three-day farming spectacular starts with the ploughing, it involves several organisations which give advice to rural people of all ages on all aspects of life – economic and social.

“There are issues and this is an opportunity for people to discuss them and hear them and for Government to interact with the farming community with issues in relation to fair trade, retail sector and in relation to what affects rural communities, suicide for example and farm safety.”

The President also revealed his childhood memories of living on a farm inspired his first two collections of poetry.

“I was reared on a small farm from the age of five to 19 in Co Clare,” he added.

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“My uncle and aunt, they farmed until they became too feeble and then I left Co Clare at the age of 19.

“My brother still farms on the family farm.”

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