Cork family ‘captures’ the imagination of national farm open day event

Old photographs depicting Cork’s farming past will be showcased as part of the inaugural Agri Aware ‘National Farm Open Day‘ event taking place on bank holiday Monday, May 7.

The special event – organised by the Irish agri-educational body – is designed to “open the lines of communication” between farmers and the consumers of their products.

The first-of-its-kind event, will see a number of farms across the country simultaneously open their gates to the public to help educate buyers on the happenings of a working farm.

It is also aimed at encouraging families to learn more about where food comes from

The countrywide occasion will involve farm walks, educational talks, cookery demonstrations and family activities – among other things.

One of the farms taking part in the national event is the holding of John and Ann Coughlan in Buttevant, Co. Cork.

Situated between Mallow and Charleville, the farm is backed by the northern hills of the Cork-Limerick border and is located close to Doneraile Wildlife Park.

The family is preparing to take quite an innovative approach to the project by visually telling the story of farming in the region through a series of timeless pictures.

Speaking to AgriLand, Ann says the farm dates back to the 1830s. It has been in the family for six generations and was previously owned by John’s mother.

Ann – who has been secretary of Buttevant Heritage Group for the last three years – came up with the creative idea of holding a display of old farming photographs as part of the event.

The promotion the family farm is an integral and important part of Buttevants rural heritage and it is something that Ann is very passionate about.

Buttevant Heritage Group hosted an exhibition over the past few years and we noticed the public was immediately attracted to old photographs.

“I believe the upcoming Agri Aware event is an ideal opportunity to collect and display some old farming photographs.

“We don’t have many yet; we are asking neighbours and locals to loan us some for the day.

‘A day for all generations’

The Coughlan family say they are big supporters of Agri Aware and the work the body carries out in raising awareness of farming and rural life.

“We see this event as a great day out for all generations and especially young families,” said Ann.

We have a grass-based system and it is important to show the younger generation how we go from grass to quality meat, milk and other food products.

The Coughlans – who are dairy and beef farmers – start their day with milking before 7:00am. It’s a lifestyle they’ve both always known, with Ann growing up on a farm just seven miles away.

The former teacher now works full-time on the farm alongside John – who is Munster regional chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA). The couple have two grown-up children, Michael (27) and Helena (26) who both work abroad.

The Coughlans have one full-time member of staff, George O’Keeffe, who is “part of the family” at this stage having worked with the family for almost four decades.

Ann is also working closely with Buttevant Heritage Group to preserve the town’s rich medieval Norman history and to honour the area’s farming heritage.

It is important that we continue to highlight the role of the family farm as a key part of the rural community.