Four Limerick students Daniel McSweeney, Jamie Fitzgerald, Dean Garvey and Shaun O’Connor from Salesian Secondary College Pallaskenry scooped second prize in the Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition in Croke Park. The four students entered the Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition in Transition Year, which is run by the Irish Angus Producer Group and their Processing partners ABP Ireland and Kepak Group.
A total of 131 schools entered the competition by writing a 200 word essay and they then were selected to go through to an interview stage where five schools were selected as national finalists and were awarded five Certified Irish Angus calves at the 2015 National Ploughing Championships. The four students then began rearing the five calves on Pallaskenry Agricultural College which is adjoining Salesian Secondary College. This proved to be very beneficial as the whole school could get involved in rearing the five calves, it also enabled Shaun who is living in Limerick inner city and Dean who is also from non-farming background to gain a hands on experience of what farming is like which enabled the two non-farmers to fulfil the practical requirements for the Agricultural Science Leaving Cert Examination which is worth 25% of the final grade in Agricultural Science.
Whilst rearing the calves the four boys had to investigate how the Angus breed improves farm safety and also to raise awareness within the farming community. The boys began by carrying out research into farm safety. They then attended a number of agricultural shows over the course of the 18 months presenting their findings; they also made a trip to Dublin to meet with Minister for Agriculture Mr Michael Creed where they discussed the importance of educating the young people and future farmers of the country.
The boys then slaughtered the Angus cattle in ABP Rathkeale last November and gained financially from the slaughter of the animals which will help fund their further education. They then made a final presentation to a panel of food experts last January.
They made their way to Croke Park on Wednesday last for the final of the competition. They were delighted to be awarded second place in the National Competition and scooped an additional €1,000 to help them further there third level educations.
The boys were delighted with the whole experience, Daniel from Patrickswell said, “Overall this was a very beneficial competition and enabled us to develop a number of skills that will stand to us in the years to come. I have a keen interest in farming and would hope to peruse it as a future career and the information I have learned from partaking in this competition will stand to me in my feature career, I also have a very keen interest in local politics and due to the competition it has helped me to develop my presentation skills and also public speaking skills which will hopefully stand to me in years to come.”
Jamie from Pallaskenry who is also from a farming background said, “Overall this competition has helped me expand my knowledge on farming which I hope to bring home to my own family farm and adapt to make it safer for all my family to work on.”