Rural Support Celebrates Successful First Year of Corkey Plough On Group

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Rural Support Celebrates Successful First Year of Corkey Plough On Group

Rural Support Celebrates Successful First Year of Corkey Plough On Group

July 1, 2024 Victoria Ross

Rural Support are marking one year of their Plough On group in Corkey which has proved a great success. The Corkey group commenced in May 2023 with The Mill, Cloughmill’s as their host venue. Led by Group Leader Heather White, the group has grown from 11 to 23 men. The group have enjoyed trips to Rathlin Island, Ulster Aviation Museum, George Bingham’s Farm, Moore Concrete, Rodger Bells’ Sheep Farm, Hot Milk Forge, Crumlin Gaol and Wool Board, Antrim. The group appreciated meeting with Glenarm Plough On Group for Christmas lunch at the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena where they had great banter and a lovely meal together. They also met together at The Mill, Cloughmills in January for a great laugh when Jennifer Beattie recited some humorous agri poetry.

A key highlight for the Corkey Plough On Group was the completion of their legacy project. Creating a metal based, natural structure was the aim of the Corkey Plough On Group, on their visit to the Hot Milk Forge in Martinstown.  The men enjoyed learning from Eamonn about the different types of steel and metal working over the years and hearing about how blacksmithing as a trade has had to adapt to a rapidly changing world to keep this fantastic skill alive.  A thoroughly enjoyable few hours were spent creating, chatting, and reminiscing about local blacksmiths in days gone by, as they were the fixers, there being no engineers at this time, so if something needed repaired or made from scratch, that was where you went.  The group enjoyed a very welcome bowl of hot stew and apple tart, before being shown round Eamonn’s brothers Irish Moiled Cattle herd and hearing about how it is the only surviving native breed in Northern Ireland.

The Plough On project aims to tackle rural isolation and increase social opportunities for older male farmers by offering participants the chance to connect with other like-minded individuals on areas of shared interest such as farming, rural heritage, and history. Benefits of participation include improvements to the farmers’ emotional and mental wellbeing by being part of a new male network focused on farming life, and for the men’s wider farming family who report on the positive impact they see after each monthly meet-up.

Group Leader Heather White noted, “Coming from a farming background I understand how isolating farming can be for many. I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of gathering likeminded people together away from the farm and offering them the chance to share talks and trips often with an agricultural theme. Our members look forward to our monthly meetings and regularly prioritise the time to attend and catchup with friends new and old over a cup of tea.”

From its inception in July 2021, Plough On has become integral to how Rural Support support the farming community in Northern Ireland. Plough On Co-Ordinator Shannon McCullagh commented, “Plough On is a brilliant initiative and we are growing in succession every year, which is amazing to watch. I have been out with the Corkey group on various occasions, and it is remarkable to see firsthand the respect and comradery the men have amongst each other. We are very grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund for supporting our vision and providing the funding which has made this project possible.”

If you would like to find out more information or to support this project and other services and programmes delivered by Rural Support, please visit the NI Farm Support hub at www.ruralsupport.org.uk or telephone the office on 028 8676 0040.

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