Scotland Exchange 2014

Visiting Scotland was one of the best experiences I have ever encountered and such an amazing opportunity to be given by Macra na Feirme. There wasn’t a dull moment within my 2 week visit to Scotland and to finish my stay with a bang , I attended the Royal Highland show. Not only did I make new friends from every corner of the world but I also met Macra members from as far as Stabannon in Co. Louth and also members of Portlaoise Macra.

I departed Dublin airport for Edinburgh on June 9th - this was all a new experience to me as I never travelled outside Ireland before! On arrival to Edinburgh I put on my Rathdowney Macra Hoodie to make myself more recognisable. I was then collected at the arrivals by Penny Montgomery Chief Executive of Scottish Young farmers and she filled me in briefly where I was staying and on upcoming events. Throughtout the day i met the other exchanges and later met up at our hostel to walk to a resturant downtown for an informal meal then returned to the hostel to stay our first night.

The next day, we were collected to visit the Scottish Young Farmers headquarters where we met all the hardworking staff. We were invited to a formal meal that evening at the Overseas Club on Princess street in which i had the role to say a speech on behalf of the exchanges! We then went to our next visit on  Craiges farm in which they produced one of Scotlands finest fruit jams. We also visited Edinburgh zoo.

The next day we moved on to our host families in Lanarkshire. En route we got to visit the Falkirk Wheel , The Kelpies and later went to the National Transport Museum in Glasgow. My host was Robert Robb from Robbiesland just 2km away from the Town of Lanark and just a five minute walk from the Falls of Clyde which was ideal!

At Robert’s farm, they were in the middle of cutting sillage as the weather was at its peak and we saw the milking parlour which consisted of a 20 unit milking 150 Holisten friesans.

The trip was jam packed with activities and tours including to Blacklaw wind farm. For me the wind farm was one of the best things to see with 54 Wind turbines producing over 125 Mega watts of electricity annually.  

We also visited Lanark market, a cattle and sheep mart, with vegetable and craft foods and machinery sales, and this was the first chance we got to see the highlander cattle.

We also visited the Nation Museum of Rural Life – here we saw all the old machinery dating back the 1800s up to the modern era. We were taken to a old farm house by tractor and trailer too see the Famous Scottish Dairy breed Ayrshire being milked.

We finished the highland show with a bang at the young famers dance. There we met some of the hosts and exchanges for the last time it was sad departing from the many great people we had met over the past two weeks we were all given a Scottish flag in which we all signed.

I would like to thank Macra for this amazing trip and my Club Rathdowney Macra for the opportunity and I will hopefully be able to travel again through Macra.

-       Liam Barton, Rathdowney Macra, Co Laois