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Encouraging the next generation of farmers

Fiona and Michael Murphy are guiding and encouraging their children, Cillian (7) and Aoife (3), to carry on a long-standing farming tradition.

The young Mayo natives are following in the footsteps of both maternal and paternal family members.  “We hope that farming will continue down the line. At present, there are three generations farming within our family.” Fiona Murphy explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.

“Cillian and Aoife absolutely love farming and are outdoors in all types of weather. They wear John Deere overalls during winter and summer, but can be found in shorts and wellies all-year-round.”

“Right from the start, even in their pram, they were on the farm observing everything. As soon as they could help, they started feeding pet lambs, collecting eggs and setting potatoes.”

Suckler and sheep enterprise

Running a suckler and sheep enterprise is a collective affair that the family take great pride in.

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Their flock consists of Blackface Mountain and Wicklow Cheviot ewes with some crossbreds, which are farmed on commonage ground along with island and lowland grazing. 

Their spring-calving suckler herd comprises of Angus, Hereford, and Limousin-type breeding females, with all progeny sold as weanlings.

“Michael works very hard on the farm with early starts before work. Alarm clocks buzz every couple of hours during lambing and calving time.”

“There is always a schedule on the farm 365 days-a-year and never a dull moment. We all chip in where we can to the best of our ability.”

“Cillian and Aoife pop their wellies on first thing in the morning to do their little chores from feeding hens to filling buckets of meal and counting sheep,” Fiona added.

“They love to try a bit of everything if safe to do so. They have their own little flock, ‘the black sheep in the family who gets great TLC’.”

Farm safety

Cillian’s and Aoife’s parents have a positive attitude towards farm safety, which has a major influence on their understanding of any potential hazards.

“Farm safety is so important and as we go along every day, we talk about this, educating them about anything from machinery to livestock,”

Fiona stressed that children, curious and inquisitive by nature, need to be warned of all dangers on farms and their exposure to such dangers should be limited. “So many lives are lost each year on farms, so we all work together to create a safe working environment.”

“Farms are not playgrounds for our children – we try to encourage safety even in role-play with their farm toys. Due to our farming area, we require a limited amount of machinery.”

Fiona said that her children show compassion towards animals, which shines through in their personalities. “I notice that even if we are on grandad’s farm, his animals can sense that these two are not a threat.”

“They love being outdoors in rain, hail, sleet or snow – nothing stops them in their tracks. They like to end their day in a traditional way with a cup of tea and a biscuit.”


Similar to other parents, Michael and Fiona would like their children’s love of the land to continue to blossom. 

“Farming requires utter dedication in life so it’s absolutely up to them. They won’t be forced into it – we want them to be happy.”

“Obviously, financially they would be better off farming on a part-time basis and securing employment off-farm, but we will just have to wait and see what happens.” Fiona concluded.

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