Karol Devaney is a sheep farmer from Barnaribbon, Drumcliff, Co. Sligo, who recently graduated from University College Dublin.
After graduating with a degree in Food and Agribusiness Management, one would have thought a job in the agriculture industry was the next step.
However, this is not to be the case for this young farmer who lives at the foot of the Benbulben mountain in Co. Sligo.
Karol has set sail for Australia where he plans to “shear some of the toughest sheep in the world”.
From a young age, Karol had a keen interest in farming and above all a passion for shearing sheep.
He has won many competitions over the years, along with his sister Joanne who is the holder of the ‘Queen of the Shears’ title.
Last year, he won the Open All-Ireland Lamb Champion competition and was also crowned the All-Ireland Senior Shearing Champion.
After a summer of shearing sheep at home and entering various competitions, Karol felt he needed to challenge himself. He decided to head to Australia to improve his shearing skills and to learn from the best in the business.
Speaking to AgriLand, Karol said: “Shearing is one of the toughest jobs in the world.
“Furthermore, I have taken on the added challenge of switching hands after shearing for eight years with my left hand.
“I did this because shearing is completely set up for a right-handed person and I was struggling to compete in the top grades.
To put that in perspective, I sheared 414 sheep in a day using my left hand. This year, on my first day in Australia, I sheared 58 sheep using my right hand.
“I love a challenge and a lot of people think I won’t be able to pull it off. However, I am determined to become the best shearer I possibly can; although I won’t be able to do that unless I get out of my comfort zone,” he added.
“The degree is always there for me to go back to. This experience is great for building character and mental toughness.
“Shearing is a great way to travel the world, while making money and taking part in competitions.
“My father always said to me ‘if you’re not going forward, you’re going backwards’ and that has stuck with me and is one of the reasons why I’m taking on this challenge,” Karol concluded.