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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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VIDEO: Mayo native ‘a pioneer’ for women in farming for over five decades

Mayo native, Una Gallagher, is a “pioneering woman leading the way in modern-day farming technology”.

That is how Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh described her during her appearance on RTÉ1’s Nationwide recently.

Gallagher has embraced technology, namely robotics and computerisation, to enhance her farm business model.

She began farming with her late husband, James, in the 1960s and runs a multi-award-winning beef and dairy enterprise in her own right in Straide, Co Mayo.

Pioneering woman in farming

Reporter, Mary Fanning, described her as a “pioneer for women in farming for over five decades”.

She said the “top-class dairy and beef farmer has never let her gender get in the way of progression”.

“She is running one of the most up-to-date dairy units in the country,” the reporter said.

Now, in her 70s, Gallagher is a “leader” for many farmers in technology, being one of the first in the country to install a robotic milking system.

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Husband’s death

Una explained: “I had a wonderful husband that really backed me at every stage. He was an advisor with Teagasc, and I never doubted his advice.”

“I reared the children, and I enjoyed it,” added Una, whose husband died in 1994.

“After my husband died, Teagasc was very good; one of the staff sent me out an application form. Reluctantly, I filled it out. The Farm Development Service came in, and they were excellent.”

“Then, I had to get the money for it. The banks never refused me. You just have to get on with life. Because of circumstances, I had to sell or pay off the loans.”

Eight years ago, she too decided to jump on the robotic dairying bandwagon with Lely Center Mullingar’s assistance.

Una, who runs a 70-cow dairy farm, said that technology has “given me back my life”.

“I think it is fantastic because there were times when I would have liked to have gone somewhere, and I couldn’t go because I was committed. Now, I am free; I love being free.”

In the interview, Alan Heaney of Lely Center Mullingar said that Gallagher is “a formidable woman that is way ahead of her time”.

“Long before my time, it was unheard of women to be out farming. Una has stood the test of time. In fact, there is an increasing number of women becoming involved in agriculture.”

“Technology allows these ladies to get involved and get more work done. Una is a great ambassador for women, technology and agriculture,” he added.

Concluding, she said: “I love a challenge and need a challenge to keep going. I enjoy every day and appreciate the good days. There are bad days, but that is life.”

Read our women in ag farming series.

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