Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 June 2018

'If I am not at work I am taking photos or helping out on the farm'


Brian Joyce and his dog on the farm in Mayo
Brian Joyce and his dog on the farm in Mayo

Ken Whelan

Focus will be the operative word for Brian Joyce this year as he takes on the Leaving Certificate, after which he could well branch out as a rural photographer as well as continuing to work on the family farm in Mayo.

The 17-year-old has been quietly building up a reputation locally as a 'snapper' and has taken commercial shots for Mayo County Council, the Cormac Tagging business and SuperValu in Westport.

He also covers local confirmations and student balls with his ever-present Canon M10 camera.

"I like to try all styles but I mainly do landscapes, nature photos and photos on the farm," he says.

"I got a highly commended entry in the Mental Health Ireland art competition this year and had the January photo in the IFA calendar and my photo for the Charolais Society will be featured in their annual later this year."

Brian clearly has the photographer's eye. He scooped first and third places and the People's Choice award in the this year's Young Biodiversity Photographer competition for secondary students.

Brian Joyce's sheep
Brian Joyce's sheep

He brings the camera with him too while helping his parents, Ger and Breege, on the family farm - a cattle and sheep enterprise in the shadow of Croagh Patrick.

The Joyces run a cattle and suckler enterprise on what Brian describes as "rough mountain land".

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They rear Simmentals and Limousins as well as some pedigree Charolais and have a flock of sheep consisting of Mayo Blackfaces, Suffolks and Belclares.

"I first started taking photos on my phone and my first camera was a Panasonic TZ60. I now use the Canon M10 which is the perfect size as it is not too big for bringing on the farm," Brian explains.

"I did a FETEC course in Level 5 photography in Westport College last year. I was in transition year so I had plenty of spare time and I passed that course with distinction."

He particularly credits Ursula Kelly of Cormac Tagging for encouraging his interest in photography and for her help in putting him in contact with the various agri-businesses in the West who may need a photographer from time to time.

Off farm, he works part-time on the tills in SuperValu in Westport.

"If I am not at work I'm taking photographs or helping on the farm," he says.

In addition to helping out with the cattle and sheep, Brian has recently re-introduced free-range hens to the farm and has set up his own beehive.

"My granny used to have hens on the farm and I decided to re-introduce them in Owenwee," he says.

"At the moment I have five laying hens producing free-range eggs every day.

"I have also built a beehive on the farm and it produces 15 jars of honey - the honey is definitely better that the honey you buy."

Brian's enthusiasm for the free-range eggs and the honey is such that you just know that his micro-agricultural enterprises will expand.

His father is rightly proud of the progress made by Brian in his various enterprises so far.

Brian's two sisters - Michelle (26) and Nicola (23), an engineer - are working with Gaelchultur in Dublin and Boston Scientific in Galway respectively.

So it's likely Brian and his older brother Joseph (21), who has completed his Green Cert and is an apprentice with McHales in Ballinrobe, will carry on the Joyce farming tradition into the fourth generation.

For now, the Leaving Cert at the Rice College in Westport beckons for Brian and then he is thinking about doing a business course in one of the western third-level colleges.

But you get the distinct impression that the 'snapper' will always keep photography in the foreground.

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