'I have been at farming protests since I was a kid'
Ciaran McDonnell is bringing agricultural activism to new levels - he started out by jumping on the family tractor at Dáil milk price protests at the age of 16, before moving on to become one of the youngest county chairman of the ICMSA at the age of 21.
"We're a very political family and I have been at farming protests regularly since I was a kid," the now 23-year-old says.
Ciaran is an only son, his sister Aoife is training as a nurse in Britain, and he has just completed a farm partnership agreement with his dad Seamus at the 50-hectare home farm at Knockbridge on the Carrickmacross Road outside Dundalk, Co Louth. There they produce an average of some 6,200 litres per cow annually for Glanbia from their herd of 50 Holsteins.
Ciaran is happy with the current 40c/l milk price which the Knockbridge enterprise is getting for its product but points out that Glanbia is lagging behind Kerry, Arrabawm and Lakelands at the moment when bonuses are included.
He is adapting a steady-as-you-go attitude to the partnership but rules out any imminent expansion at the enterprise - mainly because of the escalating cost of land in the Co Louth region.
This is probably wise considering the amount of work the young farmer has on his plate. Busy would be an understatement in Ciaran's case.
The UCD agricultural science graduate is also doing research work on farm stocking rates and how to profitably improve them on smaller farms at the Lyons estate in west Dublin.
This research work, he hopes, could be a stepping stone to a master's degree or even a PhD.