Teagasc’s Kildalton agricultural, horticultural and equine college marked 50 years of education with an open day celebration at its campus on Saturday (June 25).

The largest college in the Teagasc network, Kildalton, which is based in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny, first opened its doors to 29 young farming students in 1971. It began offering horticultural education the following year with 18 students and in 1986, it established its equine college with just four pupils.

To celebrate this history, the college opened the grounds to the public, including the lake, gardens, woodlands and the historic Bessborough House, from 11:00a.m to 4:00p.m.

Visitors could make their way through the house, which had been transformed into a number of ‘decade rooms’ with photos and articles on display from the past 50 years.

There were also a number of demonstrations held around the campus as well as tours of the on-site agricultural, horticultural and equine enterprises. Speaking at the celebration, Dr. Anne Marie Butler, head of education in Teagasc said:

“Visitors to the college for our open day last Saturday could see for themselves the high quality and standards of our course offerings and our modern teaching facilities.

“I would like to thank all my colleagues for their hard work in making the Kildalton 50 event such a success.”

Currently, Kildalton provides part time and full-time education and training to more than 1,300 students every year. Speaking about what the college does, Tim Ashmore, principal of the college said:

“In 1979, courses commenced in conjunction with the Regional Technical College in Waterford which then became Waterford Institute of Technology and is now known as South Eastern Technological University.

“This, and later collaborations with UCD (University College Dublin) and TUD (Technological University Dublin) continue to flourish.”

Celebration launch

Kildalton launched the celebration of their 50-year milestone with an event in May attended by former student, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon.

Reflecting on his time in the college that day, the minister said the education it provides is a “fantastic base” and prepares students for so much more than they realise.

As well as this, Minister Heydon commended the college on the culture of comradery that it endorses and said that he left Kildalton “with lifelong friends as well as lifelong skills”.