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Gurteen College unveils new state of art milking facility

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Gurteen College unveils new state of art milking facility thumbnailThe T·naiste and†Minister†for Foreign Affairs and Trade†Simon Coveney TD was back in his old alma mater Gurteen College on Monday last to officially open the new Ä1 million dairy unit.

A well-known former student of Gurteen Agricultural college was on hand to officially open the college's new state of the milking facility this week.
Simon Coveney, an Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, made a return visit to the ultra modern dairy parlour at the Gurteen College on Monday last where he not only performed its official opening but also took a trip down memory lane.
Welcoming everyone to Monday's event, Mike Pearson, the college's Principal, set the scene for the large crowd by pointing out Gurteen College was a private college that "when you look back over history has continued to innovate and develop because it only exists to teach its students".
According to Mr Pearson, the college's former dairy was constructed in 1985, as the crowd heard how the equine unit was developed in the mid 1990s, the workshop building was developed in 2000s along with the sheep shed, which is also due for expansion this year. The suckler shed was developed in 2006 while the biomass project occurred in 2010, he continued.
"What the college did over the last two years is take a good inward look at ourselves on both the farm, the college and how can we make sure this community at Gurteen College went into the next twenty years in the state that we have been in the last twenty," he stated.
Therefore, a farm and college strategic plan was developed to "see where the college went next and how it would develop. It was a great exercise to look inwards at yourselves to see what we can do next, how can we make it happen and what we need to do to make this happen," Mr Pearson added.
Thanking AIB for their support, Mr Pearson said the dairy facility was based on a business plan for the dairy to develop into the future. "This is based on a commercial business plan to develop the dairy. I have said these words so many times over the years. Our 1,000 acre farm and buildings is our practical laboratory. Gurteen is about the practical facilities that we have and making sure every student that goes out of here has more practical skills then with what they arrived with."
Karen Brosnan, incoming Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the College, thanked the Minister for "taking time out of his busy schedule to lead the formal opening of the dairy unit. It's a real honour for the college to include Minister as part of its alumni. As Minister of Agriculture, we know he championed the growth of the agri-food sector on a global scale. Today, he continues to lead the charge on probably one of the most pressing issues that we are facing our sector, Brexit."
Continuing, Ms Brosnan explained the delivery of this state of the art dairy facility didn't happen overnight and she acknowledged the "leadership and vision" of the college's principal, who has been "responsible for driving our new college and farm strategies". She also acknowledged the strong team including the farm staff, the dairy committee, the college staff, the board of trustees and governors, Teagasc, the many farmer friends that work behind the scenes at the college.
She also acknowledged the student body, who are "the heart of Gurteen College. We hope this project and the many others that are underway at the college will be of benefit to you for many years to come," she concluded.
Ken Flynn, Farm Manager, also thanked everyone involved in the parlour project and said they were looking forward to "run a few cows up the parlour" later in the week. "As our dairy facilities grow, we can continue our dairy expansion with confidence and improve the learning and educational facility for all the students at Gurteen," he enthused before passing the proceedings over to an Tanaiste, Minister Coveney.
Addressing the crowd, Minister Coveney, An Tanaiste, recalled with fondness when he came to the College having previously been a student at UCC. Regaling the audience with a humorous story of his arrival, Minister Coveney said his 12 months at the college were "more rewarding than any other 12 month period during my education that I was privileged to have".
Having previously walked through the farmyard, an Tanaiste said the college was a "very different" place then when he was attending it.
"It was a much smaller entity then but the ambition was there. This was going to be a place that anticipated the change coming in agriculture and prepared the young people for that. That is what we have now in the new equine centre, in the new slatted housing here, in the new sheep units here. That is what we have in the consist ambition for growth and expansion in this college and the land resources you have access too. This is what's happening in the partnerships that you have with the farmers and that is what we have here today, launching a new ultra modern dairy parlour so that we can plant a seed in students' mind in terms of what they should be aspiring too and what they should be achieving," the Minister added.
Concluding, Minister Coveney said it was a "great privilege" to open Gurteen College's new dairy parlour. "I think that if I came back here in a year or two, we will continue see the modernatisation and evolution of this facility, of the yard, and this education infrastructure to ensure we are producing the best possible farmers we can and the best possible students we can. So, they are leaving here with real ambition and excitement to do something special with the farms they have themselves."
Giving Gurteen College the endorsement and encouragement of the current Government, an Tanaiste said urged the college to continue doing what they were doing. "Expand, grow and continue with this sense of looking to the future all the time, in terms of what you are instilling in the students that leave here," he stressed.

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