Friday, April 19, 2024
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HomeBeef'The stigma that once surrounded women in ag does not exist anymore'
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘The stigma that once surrounded women in ag does not exist anymore’

21-year-old Hannah Dinan divides her time between her third-level studies, farming, and working for one of Ireland’s best-known engineering companies.

The Clarecastle, Co. Clare native, hails from a family where farming is a “major” tradition, with her uncle having a dairy and tillage farm in Coachford, Co. Cork.

Although Hannah does not live on a farm herself, many of childhood years were spent in the ‘Rebel County’ on the mixed enterprise.

“My uncle Eugene is the third generation to farm the land, having worked closely with my grandfather Jimmy for years,” she explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.

“Now his son Jimmy Jnr is a great help too. We would have gone there every year for the whole summer when we were younger.”

“I moved down to the farm before lockdown and lived with my uncle, aunt, and cousin. I could not claim I was a great help, but I gave a hand when needed.”

“My earliest memories on the farm consist of going up the yard to get milk ready to feed calves with my uncle and grandfather. My grandfather, uncle and father have had the greatest influence on my career path.”


Based on her close links with the ‘Rebel County’, it seemed like the ultimate choice when it came to filling out her CAO application.

She initially enrolled in a biomedical science course, offered jointly by University College Cork (UCC) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) before transferring to first-year of UCC’s new ag science degree in 2019.

The Clare native is one of the first candidates who will graduate from the new agricultural science degree programme, delivered in collaboration with Teagasc.

“UCC always appealed to me having heard great stories from my older cousins, mother and aunties. Although, from as far back as I can remember, I have always loved farming and in school loved science.”

“The highlight so far has to be meeting a lovely new gang of friends! First-year is, of course, a lot of general science, but I found our ag modules fascinating.”

“We have experienced some practical sides to the course already; visiting Teagasc Moorepark and Clonakilty Agricultural college numerous times; getting the experience to complete practicals and seeing many research projects.”

Dairygold bursary

Hannah will be completing a placement at Dairygold in the second semester of third year, a module that provides students with an experience of working in modern Irish agriculture.

Dairygold Co-operative Society awarded two annual undergraduate bursaries to students undertaking the BAgrSc at UCC and Hannah was one recipient.

Each awardee receives an annual bursary of €3,000 per annum for the duration of their undergraduate studies at UCC.

“I am not aware yet of what this will entail, but I am excited to get out working in the industry and see how such a successful company operates.”

“I am very grateful for this as our whole course is full of knowledgeable and enthusiastic people, and it also presents me with great opportunities.”

O’Donovan Engineering

Dinan is also gaining experience in the corporate world, having secured employment at O’Donovan Engineering Ltd earlier this year.

She moved to fill the position of Covid compliance officer/secretarial work/accounts after the Coachford, Co.Cork-based firm re-opened following lockdown.

The progressive, family-owned, and operated company specialises in the design and manufacture of superior quality, innovation livestock handling equipment for cattle, sheep, horses, and pigs.

“My main responsibilities at that stage were making sure that the environment was safe for all staff members and customers and ensuring adherence to government guidelines.”

“I then went on to work in a secretarial role, including accounts. Here my primary responsibilities were dealing with payments from customers, dealing with sales enquiries, processing payments of invoices and everything in between.”

“I have learned lots about this side of the sector and everything that goes on behind the scenes.” added the ag student who continues to work at the firm having returned to college.


Set to graduate in 2023, Hannah has no plans set in stone yet, but she is considering a research-based career.

“At this stage, it is difficult to know what path I will take. Once I finish college, I might travel abroad for a few years, maybe using my degree, maybe not! I could not see myself doing a PhD, but I think a masters degree may tempt me.”

“Without a shadow of a doubt, I am treated the same as my male counterparts. I think that women now are getting more and more recognition and its brilliant!”

“The stigma that once surrounded women in ag does not exist anymore. Women today are not afraid to step forward and take charge.”

“I am excited to finish my course and see where that takes me! I’m looking forward to being a part of the new innovative changes that are happening in the industry every day!” Hannah concluded.

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