In this week’s Women in Ag segment, That’s Farming, profiles Romai Mc Morrow, a suckler and sheep farmer, trainee beauty therapist and professional Irish dancer who has competed worldwide.
Irish dancing, beauty therapy and farming may seem like worlds apart, but collectively, they provide the perfect combination for 19-year-old Romai Mc Morrow.
She hails from a mixed sheep and suckler farm in Rossinver, Co Leitrim, which she runs with her father, Pat. She divides her time between the mixed enterprise and her beauty therapy studies at SouthWest College, Enniskillen.
“I come from a family where farming is a major tradition. I am a fourth-generation farmer,” she told That’s Farming.
“The first memory I have that has stuck in my mind from years ago would be seeing a vet performing a C-section on a cow for the first time.”
“To be honest, I will never forget it as it was not a pretty sight. I began farming at a young age, helping my dad move sheep here and there. I wanted to be around dad all the time, looking at what he was doing and the animals.”
Suckler and sheep farmer
The Park Farm comprises 12 cross-bred continental breeding females and a Charolais stockbull as part of a calf-to-weanling system. On the sheep farming front, the father and daughter duo have 75 Mayo Mountain-cross ewes with Charollais, Suffolk and Texel rams.
“Lambing took place on Paddy’s Day for us this year, and luckily, we were quite successful. We prefer outside as nothing beats the fresh air. It takes place then to suit grass growth in this area.”
The Leitrim native plays an active role in the farm, with her main responsibilities being animal health and husbandry and assisting during lambing season.
“The most enjoyable aspect of farming for me would be lambing season. Being up early seeing the lambs grow and play so quickly. The most challenging part would be the weather and trying to save as many as you can.”
“I am most passionate about grassland management and land quality. Grassland in north Leitrim is important because of the mixed soil quality. Beef and land quality is very important for the pleasure of having a good animal and the financial reward.”
“Farming is good for your well-being and mental health as you are outside a lot and immersed in nature. Helping animals and being around them is such a good feeling, and watching them grow up. You learn so much as well that will stick with you for life.”
Despite her strong farming root,s the 19-year-old hopes to carve a career as a beauty therapist once she graduates from SouthWest College, Enniskillen, in 2023.
The Level 2 Beauty Therapy student enrolled in the course in 2020 following the completion of her Leaving Certificate.
“I chose this college and course because it was something different for me, new friends and new opportunities. In addition, I have two certificates from makeup courses I did online during lockdown.”
“I am really enjoying this course. I have met some lovely new friends, and all the teachers are so nice. It has met my expectations.”
“I wanted to study this programme to get more education on beauty and to learn new things for the future. The course involves waxing, tinting, facials, makeup, manicure, pedicure, and so much more, all to do with beauty therapy.”
“At the start, with everything being online, it was difficult as I was as motivated as I should have been, but it got easier. At the end of my course, I will be a qualified beauty therapist.”
“Farming and beauty therapy are quite a unique combination. I love having two completely different things that I am interested in that are so unique for a woman.”
“At the start of the pandemic, I found it quite nice. I got things done that I would not have had time to do otherwise. I got to do up my bedroom, help around the house and had more time to spend with my family and relax.”
“Honestly, I think the break was good for me. Resultingly, I have grown a lot more during the pandemic. In addition, I have learned more about farming and have had time to practice my beauty and dancing.”
Along with her primary interests in farming and beauty therapy, the Leitrim native is an avid professional Irish dancer, who has competed worldwide.
She began dancing at the age of three, under her mother’s direction, and embraced her competitive streak for the first time two years later.
After that, she moved to Siobhan McDonnell School of Dance in Sligo, where she remained for most of her career. However, she has returned to dance with her mum and her former student, Aiden Mc Loughlin, who became Romai’s second dance teacher in recent years.
“I am fortunate to have been Connacht champion three times in a row. To note, I have numerous All-Ireland medals, two world medals and loads of trophies and medals from national competitions. I travelled with my mum’s traditional Irish folk group, The Emerald Revellers, all over Europe and in the USA.”
“I have been very lucky to have travelled so many places with Irish dance competitions. In the future, I hope to teach Irish dancing when I finish competing. I have been very lucky to have my own dance studio space at my house so I can practice with mum.”
“It has been hard as I do not have as much space as I need. Dancing, farming, and working out has helped me get through lockdown,” she admitted.
“I would love to have my own beauty salon, have a dance class of my own and an agricultural business. They are all just thoughts, now, but hopefully, after some time and hard work, everything will come together for me.”
“My ultimate goal is to be successful doing what I love and to excel in anything that I put my mind to. My journey to date has been exciting and enjoyable with so many learning curves,” the suckler and sheep farmer concluded.
Are you a suckler and sheep farmer? To share your story, email – [email protected]