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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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Ag colleges: ‘Our courses are a blend of the classroom and outdoors’ – Dr Butler

“The benefits and options that Teagasc education offers are numerous,” Dr Anne-Marie Butler, head of education at Teagasc, told viewers of the state agency’s inaugural live education webinar earlier this week.

The virtual information session focused on the array of open days at its various colleges nationwide for prospective Level 5 agriculture, horticulture, equine and forestry students over the coming weeks.

Topics for discussion include the application process, course content and elective subjects, progression, student maintenance grants and work experience arrangements.

Teagasc operates across seven locations, each of which have a fully functioning farm or horticulture unit.

Teagasc colleges:

  • Ballyhaise, Co Cavan;
  • The Botanic Gardens, Dublin;
  • Kildalton in Piltown, Co Kilkenny;
  • Clonakilty in Co Cork.

In addition to the above, the state agency has a “strong” working relationship with the following three private agricultural colleges:

  • Mountbellew Agricultural College, Co Galway;
  • Gurteen Agricultural College, Co Tipperary;
  • Salesian Agricultural College, Pallaskenry, Co Limerick.
Courses, facilities & staff

During the webinar, which was streamed live to over 3,000 second-level students nationwide earlier this week. Dr Butler explained:

“By attending our open days, you will get a first-hand experience of what these courses entail, what our facilities are and the wonderful teams of staff across the colleges, who are here to support you and guide you.”

“Students really get a feel for what is there, it really helps just to get to see where you will be learning, interacting with students and staff.”

“The open day is a real first-hand experience at the colleges, as they will be fully open and functioning.”

She said that prospective students, parents, guardians, family, friends, and teachers can attend Teagasc education open days.

The head of Teagasc education continued: “Our courses are really enjoyed by learners because they are a blend of the classroom and outdoors, be it in the fields, tunnels, on horses, or working directly with animals.”

“The facilities that are there are first-class. We are very fortunate in Teagasc that we also link with research and advisory, and we can bring that into the classroom. Our staff are here to support our students.”

Dr Butler highlighted that there are options for students to progress to level 7 and level 8 eight across the country, depending on your preference, with a “huge” variety of courses on offer and “first-class” facilities.

Open to all

During the webinar, Karen O’Connell, assistant principal at Clonakilty Agricultural College, Co Cork, explained:

“We do find that people who come through the CAO into the technological universities, there does tend to be a higher number of females in that.”

“But what that being said, every year, we would have a number of girls in our full-time level 5 and level 6 courses.”

“It does vary from year to year in that some years you get a spike, and other times, it drops back a little, but there are girls in every class.”

“One other thing that I want to say is that people do not have to be from a farm.”

“If they have any interest in forestry, horticulture, agriculture or equine, you do not need to be coming from that background.”

“That is not going to stop you from getting a place; you just need to have an interest in it,” she concluded.

List of Teagasc College Open Days in 2023:
  • Mountbellew Agricultural College: Wednesday March 1st, 2023 – 10am-12:30pm;
  • Teagasc Kildalton College: Friday, March 3rd, 2023 – 10am and 11am;
  • Gurteen College: Wednesday, March 8th, 2023 – 10:30am- 12:30pm;
  • Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture, National Botanic Gardens: Thursday, March 9th, 2023 – 12 noon to 3 pm;
  • Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College: Friday, March 10th, 2023 – 10am to 1pm;
  • Teagasc Clonakilty Agricultural College: Friday, March 10th, 2023 – 11am to 1pm;
  • Salesian Agricultural College: Saturday, June 24th, 2023 – 11 am to 1p m.

[Note advance booking may be required – contact college in advance of open day. Contact details are available on each individual ag college’s website or Teagasc’s.]

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