The St Clare’s team of Ellen McCaul, Nicole Briody, Blathnaid Farrelly and Tara McCabe with proud teacher Lauren McCabe centre.

St Clare’s students make the final in Angus competition

AMR Pupils win five Irish Angus calves

Four students from St. Clare’s College Ballyjamesduff have made it through to the finals of the certified Irish Angus schools competition. Tara McCabe, Ellen McCaul Bláthnaid Farrelly, and Nicole Briordy qualified for the final for a project they undertook on antimicrobial resistance. Reaching the final means the students will receive a prize of five Angus calves at the national ploughing championship in Ratheniska and will embark on an 18-month research project.

The students who did the project as part of their transition year agricultural science course said that after finding out about the dangers of AMR they were compelled to study it further.

“When we started TY, we wanted to get involved in anything we could. When Ms McCabe, our Ag Science teacher told us about the competition, we were interested, but never thought we could get this far,” said Blanaid. “Ms McCabe put forward a few ideas for what we could do it on and AMR, which is part of the leaving cert curriculum was one of them. It really opened our eyes and was something we believed strongly in.”

One statistic that stood out a lot to us was that by 2050 there will be 50 million deaths worldwide as a result of AMR, so we thought if we could do something in our community about it then we could do our bit to educate people in our local area.”

The girls progressed to the next stage of the competition and were one of 80 teams to go to Athlone to be interviewed by a panel of industry experts from ABP, KEPAK and Certified Irish Angus on their subject.

From there they progressed to the next stage in Croke Park in March along with 42 teams to showcase their topic and ideas on AMR where a panel of judges interviewed them again. Soon after they received word they were one of five finalists.

AMR is a very technical topic so the sought some expert advice to help them on their way.

“It was hard to get into at first, but we constantly picked up different bits and facts about it,” said Tara.

“We linked in with Tommy Heffernan or ‘Tommy the Vet’, who writes for the Irish Farmers Journal. He had really good knowledge of the topic and was able to help us a lot,” she continued. “We all chipped in with research and had our heads buried in books or in laptops at every chance we got.

“We even visited local farms. All of the teachers in the school were really good, for example, the art teachers gave us supplies to help with our project.”

While only one of the group, Nicole Briordy comes from a farm, doing the project has opened their eyes to the possibility of seeking a job in the wider farming industry.

“Coming from a farm didn’t really help that much in the early stages,” said Nicole. “Even my father didn’t know that much about AMR. But as we got further into the competition knowledge about dosing and things like that really helped us. Before this farming wasn’t something we would consider as a career, we thought it was just for boys. But now it has opened our eyes because we know there are lots of different careers that are available in agriculture or veterinary, it’s not just about driving tractors.”

While going to the ploughing championships is something they are looking forward to, the competition doesn’t finish there as the winners won’t be announced until 2025.

“We are going to the ploughing soon, where we can be found at Block 4 Row 6, Stand 100,” said Ellen. “There we’ll be doing more interviews and hopefully we can learn a lot more about farming.

“Afterwards, we’ll get the calves, bring them to Nicole’s farm in Crosserlough, rear them for 18 months, do a research project, slaughter them, and then the winners will be announced.”