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'I was dead set on going out on my own - I wanted to be my own boss'

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Out on her own: 26-year-old Maighread Barron is running her own dairy farm in Waterford

Out on her own: 26-year-old Maighread Barron is running her own dairy farm in Waterford

Out on her own: 26-year-old Maighread Barron is running her own dairy farm in Waterford

Irish farming is still very much a male domain, with the most recent CSO figures showing that just 12.4pc of farms are owned by women, even though they account for 27pc of the farm workforce.

However, recent years have seen a growing visibility of women in farming and ahead of International Women's Day next Sunday (March 8), we spoke to a young woman who has struck out on her own in dairy farming.

At the age of 26, Maighread Barron from Ballinamult, Co Waterford, is running a 100 acre farm and milking 90 cows.

Maighread, a dairy business graduate from University College Dublin, decided to go her own way, despite being given the option to enter into a four-way partnership with her parents and her brother John.

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Maighread at work on her 100ac leased farm

Maighread at work on her 100ac leased farm

Maighread at work on her 100ac leased farm

"We looked at the possibility of going into a four-way partnership at home because John, Mam and Dad are there. We kind of decided against it though because too many cooks spoil the broth," she told the Farming Independent.

"I was dead set on going out on my own. I wanted to be my own boss."

Maighread's desire to run her own farm came after she worked on a farm in New Zealand.

"In my third year in UCD I went to New Zealand for placement. It was in New Zealand that I really got a taste for the hands-on work," she said.

"I was offered a job as a manager out there. That's when I decided I wanted to either go home, be a manager, or go into a partnership.

"Daddy then spotted in the Farming Independent this farm that was about 40 minutes away from home up for lease.

"The owner, Sean said he would be happy to lease it to us with the full understanding that it was I that would be running the place."

When Maighread took up the 15-year lease for the farm, she did not know of many women running their own farms.

Stigma

But ahead of International Women's Day, she advises young women thinking of following in her footsteps to forget the "stigma in your head" and "go for it".

"It's about getting stuck in and getting rid of the stigma in your head, like thinking 'oh I'm only a girl. I wouldn't be strong enough to do this on my own'.

"We all have those thoughts in our heads. The first man I started working with had a thousand cows. There were six of us and I was the only girl.

"I'd think why was I so stupid to think that I couldn't do it myself," adds Maighread who was a finalist in the 2019 Farming Independent Farmer of the Year awards.

'I was dead set on going out on my own - I wanted to be my own boss'

Indo Farming