Vibrant voluntary organisation Macra na Feirme will hold a major fundraiser in Waterford this week.
Established in the 1940s, the organisation’s aim was originally to provide training and act as a social outlet for young farmers throughout Ireland.
While members primarily consisted of farmers in the past, nowadays farmers account for just one third of Macra’s 8,000 members.
The organisation is described as being “for young people between the ages of 17 and 35 who are interested in meeting new people and getting involved in sports, travel, drama, debating or just want to meet new people and have some fun”.
A serious side also exists as Macra deals with many issues which impact on young people including road safety, mental health, installation aid scheme for young farmers etc.
The organisation boasts hundreds of clubs throughout the country, offering activities under the headings of agriculture, sport, travel, public speaking, performing arts and community involvement.
A huge focus is placed on encouraging young people to become active in their local communities and Macra na Feirme clubs are hugely involved in community ventures of all sorts throughout the country.
Chairperson of Waterford Macra Ken Locke is originally from Tralee and moved to the Waterford 12 years ago.
Ken, a civil servant with the Department of Agriculture, has been a member of Waterford City Macra for five years.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said when speaking with me this week.
“In fact my only regret is that I didn’t join when I first moved to Waterford! There’s a great social life and it’s a great way to meet new people.”
Along with Waterford City Macra, there are six Macra clubs in total in Waterford as well as numerous clubs throughout South Kilkenny and South Tipperary.
Macra has traditionally been associated with being ‘just for farmers’ but that is now not the case as Ken explained.
“We have members from all walks of life,” he said.
“In Waterford City, we have members who are doctors, teachers, students. In fact, we actually have more female members than male at the moment! The majority are working in Waterford City and are not originally from the area but have become more integrated in their local communities through their involvement with Macra. You can pick and choose what you want to become involved in. There’s a great mixture of activities on offer such as sporting activities, public speaking, travel etc.”
Vice Chairperson of Waterford Macra Niamh Mooney from Kilmeaden has been a member of Kilmacthomas Macra for the past four years.
“I feel I’ve gained so much from my involvement with Macra and I still have lots more to gain,” she said.
“I’ve met so many people from throughout the country and can safely say I now have a friend in every county!”
Niamh, an auctioneer with Michael Guiry Auctioneers, The Quay, believes Macra allows members to test themselves and their abilities.
“Macra is full of challenges but the rewards most certainly outweigh the challenges,” she said.
Kilmacthomas is the oldest Macra club in County Waterford and Niamh was part of the club’s All-Ireland winning debating team earlier this year.
She is also in contention for another national title as she will participate in Macra’s impromptu public speaking final next week.
A ‘Racing for Macra’ club and national fundraiser takes place this Saturday November 30th at four locations throughout the country including Kilcohan Park.
Tickets cost €10 and cover entry, race card, entertainment and entry to the national draw for a chance to win €1,000 or a hotel break in the FBD Castleknock Hotel, Dublin.
“We’re very lucky that Waterford has been chosen as one of four locations throughout the country,” said Niamh.
“All surrounding counties are invited and the fundraiser will benefit the organsaition both nationally and locally. The event is good value for money and you will be supporting a good cause.”
Ken added: “Anyone interested in finding out more about the organisation is welcome to come along on the night. It’s a great opportunity for past Macra members to meet current members and for new members to discover all that Macra can offer.”
Tickets purchased on the night will not benefit Macra so all those wishing to support the event should contact Ken (087-6488874) or Niamh (086-3519558) or a local Macra club to purchase tickets and support the organisation.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/waterford.macra.