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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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‘I had my third baby and felt like it was hard to manage everything’ – award-winning farmers

Bronagh and Cathal O’Rourke’s diverse farm comprises three different legs, each of which, in their own right, have contributed to its award-winning success.

Located in the Burren, Co. Clare, they have been selected as the winners of the 2022 Newbie new entrant competition, sponsored by AIB Bank, Teagasc, the primary competition organiser, recently revealed.

Cathal’s family have been farming the lands commercially for many generations.

Along with his wife, he took the enterprise’s reins and identified the opportunities to take the business in “a different direction using existing assets to maximum benefit”.

As Gordon Peppard, a collaborative farming specialist at Teagasc, said, the couple “recognised a gap in the market, they devised a business plan to maximise their strengths, made maximum use of existing assets on the farm whilst also enhancing their work life and family balance”.

Bronagh and Cathal O’Rourke

The O’Rourkes established the new farm business in 2020, and they operate it as follows:

  1. Burren Premium Beef
  • Produce high-quality organic beef from the farm, which has been in the family for five generations;
  • Animals graze the lowlands during the summer and are then out-wintered on the Burren winterage area;
  • Animals slaughtered in a local butchery;
  • Meat is boxed up in different weight boxes and sold at local markets, restaurants and online;
  • Online sales are delivered fresh to the door.
  1. Burren Farm Experiences
  • Customers visit the farm for a unique experience;
  • First-hand experience of the running of the farm;
  • View many national moments, archaeological features, ancient forest, chapel, round field, turloughs etc., on the farm.
  1. Agri-camping
  • Four bell tents are hired out for groups/families;
  • Stay on the farm and enjoy the outdoor camping experience.
Bronagh’s comments

Bronagh commented: “We started the business in 2020. I had my third baby and wanted to spend time at home because with school runs and everything else; it felt like it was hard to manage everything.”

“I did a tour guide course, and from that then, we developed some ideas. Cathal and I work really well together.”

“He has been farming all his life, and I came from a background where I was very forward-facing in dealing with the public.”

“I think the best bit of advice that I could give to anyone starting out is that it is a long road, so pace yourself.”

“Throwing yourself all in is great, and I have passion for what I do. However, it really is a marathon rather than a sprint.”

“You need to believe in yourself and go for some things that you know well in your heart of hearts that you can do yourself.”

“Also, have confidence in a really brilliant product. Sometimes it just takes the first step, and everything will fall into place; that is what happened for us,” she concluded.

Previous article on farm diversification ideas: 3 smart ways to boost your income

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