Burren Premium Beef and Farm Experiences located in the Burren, Co. Clare has been selected as the winners of the 2022 Newbie New Entrant Competition. 

Cathal O’Rourke’s family have being farming the lands commercially for many generations and when Cathal took over the running of the farm along with his wife Bronagh, they identified the opportunities to take the farm business in a different direction.

They did this by using the existing assets that they had available to them to maximum benefit. 

Burren company

The new farm business started in 2020 consists of three main parts.

Burren Premium Beef was established to produce high quality organic beef from the farm where animals are allowed to graze the lowlands during the summer and are then out wintered on the Burren winterage area.

The animals are slaughtered in a local butchery and the meat is boxed up in different weight boxes and sold at local markets, restaurants and online. All online sales are delivered fresh to the door, according to the owners.

Then, Burren Farm Experiences allow customers to visit the farm for a unique experience.

Availing of the location and assets on the farm, visitors can get a first-hand experience of the running of the farm coupled with viewing many archaeological features such as an ancient forest, chapel, round field, turloughs etc., on the farm, and seeing the features of the Burren first-hand.

The business also includes agri-camping. The O’Rourke’s also have four bell tents that are hired out for groups/families to come and stay on the farm and enjoy the outdoor camping experience.

Speaking following the announcement, Bronagh O’Rourke said: “We are very proud to have won the Newbie award.

“As a couple, we have worked very hard over the past couple of years to establish the different elements of the business and it is great to get the recognition of Teagasc and the other stakeholders in winning this award.”

Chris Nolan, AIB agri advisor said: “AIB is delighted to partner with Teagasc and other key stakeholders in supporting this initiative.

“The Newbie competition provides an excellent platform to showcase new entrants and their ideas. The competition received entries from a variety of enterprises this year, and AIB would like to congratulate all those who entered.

“New entrants are crucial for the sustainable development of the agri-sector and AIB is committed to supporting the sustainable development of Irish agriculture.” 

Gordon Peppard, collaborative farming specialist with Teagasc, added: “It is very exciting to see new and innovative agricultural related businesses established.

“Cathal and Bronagh recognised a gap in the market, they devised a business plan to maximise their strengths, made maximum use of existing assets on the farm whilst also enhancing their work life and family balance.”

Newbie Network

The Newbie Network started out in 2018 as an EU-Horizon-2020-funded project with 10 European partners.

It offers a platform to bring together new entrants, successors, advisors, researchers, regional and national stakeholders in national networks, with the aim of enabling new entrants to successfully establish a sustainable farm business in Europe. 

New entrants are defined in the Newbie network as anyone who starts a new farm business, or becomes involved in an existing farm business at any stage of their lives.

New entrants across sectors and regions face common barriers such as access to land, capital, knowledge and labour.

The Newbie Network will identify and highlight new business models that overcome some of the barriers faced by new-entrants through 90 case studies and a video library available to new entrants across Europe.

These will be shared through a range of European and national activities including national discussion circles, videos and bilateral exchanges.