Fermanagh’s representative in this year’s Rose of Tralee Festival, has farming roots. Stephanie Maguire is well used to helping out her parents, Michael and Susan, on the family’s suckler farm in Marlbank.

Having studied to be a teacher in Liverpool, she is now doing a PhD at Queen’s University, Belfast, on the effects of schools on people’s attitudes to domestic violence.

She enjoys taking a break from her studies to assist on the farm. “We also have land at Letterbreen.

I help out with silage and calving, and found myself assisting with lambing when my parents were away.

“Out of a family of five, myself and my youngest sister, Mikayla, are the only ones living at home. I help out whenever needed. I always had a love for animals, and enjoy being outside. It’s a really healthy lifestyle, and a nice way to take a break from my studies.

“Farming has become more mechanised in recent years, so there’s less heavy physical work required,” said Maguire who played gaelic football with Belcoo in the past, as well as being on the Fermanagh county team.

“My dad also does building contracting work, so I help out a bit with that too,” she said. While her goal is to work in the area of educational research, she said she would like to combine that with living on a small farm in the future.

Roses with agri connections

Among the other contestants with farming connections are: Chicago Rose, Teresa Daly, who grew up on a dairy farm in Kanturk, Co. Cork; Orlagh McNally from Saval, Co. Down, whose father is a farmer, who owns his own on-farm butchery and farm shop; and South Carolina Rose, Ellerslie McCue, who is studying agribusiness at Clemson University, South Carolina.

McCue plans to pursue a career in either agriculture sales or policy, with a focus on sustainability. “I am an active member in Clemson’s Agribusiness Club, and successfully implemented a record-breaking fundraiser this year.

My grandfather introduced me to the marvels of the land and shared his passion for farming and our family farm, which we have owned for over 125 years.

“I hope to do my part in educating the public about agriculture, and share my passion with others, just as my grandfather shared his passion with me,” McCue added.