Macra na Feirme is an organisation steeped in history and the publication of Macra na Feirme 1944-2019 A History In Pictures illustrated many of our past achievements and acts as a signpost to the future. Macra na Feirme has always been about people, ostensibly young people from rural Ireland.

The youth to which I refer have, along with the rest of the population, had a hard two years learning new behaviours such as social distance and experiencing social isolation as a direct result of COVID-19.

Throughout the various lockdowns, Macra na Feirme continued to operate. As with many other organisations during these times, the delivery of services was altered and provided in a safe manner.

No one would argue that a Macra competition run via an electronic platform compares with one run in person. They did however continue to run, thanks to the collective efforts of staff and volunteers, combined with the participants.

On 14 May last, there was a welcome change from what we had experienced over the last two years, as we held our annual general meeting in person.

Our AGM was held in the Clayton Hotel in Sligo where we were admirably looked after. We had delegates from all regions and the four corners of Ireland descended upon Sligo.

The AGM itself went off well, with 26 different motions being hotly debated at times.

Josephine O’Neill, Eoin Kennedy and Christine O’Neill, winners of the impromptu debating competition.

At the conclusion of the AGM, we were treated to the final of the impromptu debating competition. In this event teams were given a topic 30 minutes before the competition started and had to argue in favour or against the proposition.

The standard of debating was exceptionally high, unfortunately there was only one winner, which was Callan Macra. Congratulations are also due to the runners up Glanmire Macra.

With the business of the day completed, we were treated to a gala dinner. Before the dinner got underway, our president John Keane made a presentation to all past national county representatives.

It was a small token consisting of an engraved pen and a copy of the aforementioned history of Macra. We owe a debt to our volunteers and it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge this.

It was at this dinner that the warmth and depth of feeling of Macra members, towards both each other and the organisation, became very evident. Two years of isolation were forgotten. I will not describe any further activities on the night.

From my perspective as someone new to Macra na Feirme, I was blown away by the commitment, enthusiasm and drive of our volunteers. I was equally bowled over by the warm welcome that I received and indeed continue to receive. Socially we are back, and back we shall stay.

Yours in Macra,

Mick Curran.