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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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Meet the 6 2023 Nuffield Scholars

Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust Ireland has announced the details of six individuals who will complete scholarships in 2023.

The scholars will focus on a range of study topics from grassland management to farm diversification to change management to potato and vegetable growing strategies.

The objective of the Irish Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust is to identify future leaders of Irish agriculture and facilitate their ambition to bring about “meaningful” change for the benefit of their community.

The six 2023 scholars are:

  1. Bryan Daniels;
  2. David Fennelly;
  3. Gillian Willis;
  4. Liagh Whelehan;
  5. Margaret Edgill;
  6. Thomas Murray

Following a two-stage interview process, the selection panel chose the six candidates to receive this award.

The new scholars for 2023 are:

Bryan Daniels

Kilkenny dairy farmer, Bryan Daniels, will focus on identifying the restrictions and solutions to incorporating clover on Irish grassland farms as part of his Nuffield Scholarship.

The Kildalton Agricultural College graduate returned home to farm in 1999 where he converted the dairy and beef enterprise to a fully dairy farm.

Margaret Edgill

Margaret Edgill is an organic farmer, artisan food producer and grower in Daingean, Co. Offaly.

She is a graduate of UCD Michael Smurfit School of Business with a MBA specialising in Tourism.

Since her return to the family farm in 2012 after a 13-year stint in the arts & event management sector, she has been pioneering in her capacity to innovate.

Her own farm diversification strategy has been centred on connecting food & farming harmoniously.

She will look to develop a blueprint for farm diversification with a specific focus on the agri-food tourism sector.

David Fennelly

Full-time Laois dairy farmer, David Fennelly, farms in partnership with his parents with a “strong” focus on reducing environmental impact.

The enterprise is also a demonstration farm for the Signpost programme, which aims to showcase science-based technologies to reduce Irish agricultural emissions.

David is a 2020 graduate of University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in Dairy Business.

As a member of a discussion group, he also has an active role in local Macra na Feirme and GAA clubs.

As part of his scholarship, he will explore alternative, swards, inputs, and grazing strategies, which can provide solutions to the root cause of challenges facing pasture-based dairy farms.

Thomas Murray

Thomas Murray, from Banagher County Offaly, is an agronomist with O’Shea Farms in County Kilkenny.

He graduated from SETU Waterford with a Bachelors of Agricultural Science in 2016 and completed a Diploma in Leadership for the Agri-Food sector in 2021 from UCC.

He currently advises and manages potato and carrot growers on land selection, seed procurement, agronomy and storage management.

As part of his scholarship, Thomas will investigate decision-making tools for the future of potato and vegetable production in Ireland.

Liagh Whelehan

Liagh grew up on a dairy farm in Laois, before moving to a dry stock farm in Wexford.

She spent her formative years outdoors, in the fields, woods, or vegetable gardening, developing a deep and lasting passion for the natural world.

Liagh holds a BSc and an MSc in Business Management from UCD.

Her studies gave her a grounding in environmental issues and biology, but also taught her the realities of operating in a commercial world.

Horticulture was an obvious career choice, as growing plants has been a passion since childhood.

She currently works as a grower and assistant production manager in a bedding and pot plant nursery in North County Wexford.

As part of her Nuffield Scholarship, Liagh will investigate methods of improving efficiency and sustainability in plant propagation in controlled environments.

Gillian Willis

Willis is from a sheep, beef and tillage farm in Ballon, Co.Carlow and is currently a project manager at Bord Bia.

Gillian studied Food & Agri-Business Management at UCD and completed an MSc in Food Business Strategy at the Michael Smurfit Business School, UCD.

She started her career with Burger King Corporate as a graduate in Madrid in 2015 before taking on roles in HR, project management and R and D based in Switzerland.

Gillian joined Bord Bia in 2018 as a small business development manager and is currently in a project management role.

As part of her scholarship, she will explore how farms can implement changes to secure future farm viability as the sector faces increasing challenges in terms of economic sustainability and climate change.

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2023 Nuffield Scholars

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