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Bell Tower and Lofts of the Former Model Farm,
Athenry Agricultural College, better known locally as the “Farmyard”; has provided training and education for the farming community for over 90 years.
The farm, with a total size of 240 ha, (640 acres), was donated to the State by the Goodbody family in the early l900s. Its early philosophy was “to provide a basic education in the principals of agricultural science and their practical application on a well run farm”, and nothing has changed much in the intervening years.
Along with its sister colleges in Ballyhaise and Clonakilty, its main function was to provide one-year courses.
However, in the late 1940s, the Athenry college was chosen to provide shorter, more intensive courses of about two to three weeks. These courses proved so popular that by 1965, 13 such courses were provided for 410 students. The year I966 was a hallmark for the college, when the new student building accommodating 40 students, was opened. It was re-named Mellows College, to commemorate Liam Mellows, who, while taking part in the Rising of l9l6, was billeted at the college.
Ireland’s entry to the EEC marked another important chapter in the life of the college. There was an increased emphasis on training and substantial grants were provided for each student attending. Times were buoyant for farmer training. ACOT, as it was known then, introduced its certificate in Farming training programme in 1983.
Mellows College currently provides three full-time courses:
Certificate in Agriculture, a one-year course in general agriculture.
Diploma in Pig Unit management, a two-year specialised course in pigs.
Certificate in Poultry Production, a two-year specialised course in poultry.
Presently there are over 90 full-time students on the register.
The college also provides short courses for 150 students from the Farm Enterprise Scheme and the Teagasc district option courses.
To help deliver the courses the college has ﬁve farm units:
Dairy Unit – 60 cows.
Calf to Beef – 25 bullocks and l00 cows.
Suckler cows and sheep – 28 cows and 45 ewes, farmed under REPS. g
Pig Unit – 190 sows integrated.
Poultry Unit, with broilers, hens, turkeys and geese.
Written by Frank Laffey, College Principal
Published here 11 Nov 2022
The Athenry Journal
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