'I am up and out on the farm at 2am most nights'

Sean Hegarty with his daughter Clodagh and son John playing with the Mule Cross triplet lambs born on the farm two weeks ago. The lambs are wearing orange jackets to portect them from the elements and deter foxes.
Sean Hegarty with his daughter Clodagh and son John playing with the Mule Cross triplet lambs born on the farm two weeks ago. The lambs are wearing orange jackets to portect them from the elements and deter foxes.

Ken Whelan

It's busy with a capital B down on the Hegarty farm in Kerry at the moment, with the lambing season in full swing.

There is about three weeks left in the lambing season, and 40-year-old Sean says: "I'm up and out on the farm at 2am most nights and then again before seven.

"I take the lambing season personally and get mad if there are any accidents in the fields."

Since 2005, Sean has been a farm manager for Hegarty Brothers, a mixed agri enterprise set up by his father John, uncle Donal and late uncle Denis.

On the farm at Castlelough near Killarney National Park, they run a flock of some 200 Suffolk crosses which are sold onto the Kildare Chilling company and local butchers.

Sean is married to Christine, a teacher, and the couple have four children: Cian (8), Clodagh (6), John (5) and Tess (four months), who is named after her great-aunt, a nun with the Poor Clares order in Kenmare.

The children were delighted with the arrival of a set of Suffolk triplets and called them Dolly, Molly and Holly. The triplets, pictured here in their protective jackets on the day they were born, are thriving. They are the second set of triplets in successive years from the same ewe.

Sean has been interested in sheep-farming since his days at St Brendan's secondary school in Killarney.

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Apart from everything his family taught him down the years, he has sharpened up these skills by listening attentively to his friend and neighbour Tim Mangan, a sprightly farmer and sheep expert in his 80s who still helps on the Hegarty farm when called upon.

Sean describes the farm as "slightly hilly with a wonderful ten-acre pasture in front of the farm house".

He is happy enough with the current lamb prices.

"They might not be as good this year as last year. But that's farming. The prices are better than those being received by beef farmers," he points out.

Sean is planning to start up a new sheep enterprise with Donegal mules and other mixed breeds on the other side of Killarney.

He feels it is essential that the Government and agricultural authorities incentivise young farmers to help maintain an economic and social vibrancy in rural Ireland.

Sean has had a varied agricultural education.

He went to Tralee IT for three years and undertook an intensive 180-hour course with Teagasc in 2005 to qualify as a young trained farmer.

He admits that his time at Tralee IT was dominated by Gaelic football - he was a panellist for Kerry alongside the likes of Seamus Moynihan, Maurice Fitzgerald and the Ó Sé brothers.

"It was more football than anything else," he says.

He won Sigerson Cup and an All-Ireland U-21 medals, and captained the Kerry Juniors to an All-Ireland in 2006. He is still heavily involved in the Killarney Legion club, where his son Cian plays.

For Sean it is all about Legion in his off-farm time, and their cross-town rivalry with Dr Crokes. "Don't mention the Crokes to me," he adds emphatically.

Indo Farming


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