BYGONE DAYS: College holds ‘open week’ for those who wish to study agriculture

So great was the interest shown by the general public, and in particular the farming community, in the work being carried on at Greenmount Agricultural College, Muckamore, Co Antrim, that the college this week in 1950 was holding an ‘open week’ to give those interested an opportunity of “inspecting the farm and seeing the latest experiments being made there,” reported the News Letter.

Shirley Hurst from Lisbellaw, with "Milhollaw Starlet" belongining to C & V Coulter, Castlederg,  winner of the Brood RID mare class at Enniskillen Horse and Pony Show.
Shirley Hurst from Lisbellaw, with "Milhollaw Starlet" belongining to C & V Coulter, Castlederg, winner of the Brood RID mare class at Enniskillen Horse and Pony Show.

During the week hundreds of visitors were expected, “and many parties from all parts of the province” had made arrangements to visit the college, “travelling in specially chartered buses”.

Visitors were escorted on tours of inspection by members of the staff, who explained in detail the latest developments and gave advice to farmers on the problems which confront them in their work.

During the Second World War, Greenmount had been taken over by the Forces, and then later by the Ministry of Agriculture, and it was only in 1948 that the college again began operating.

According to a member of the staff, the farm was in a state of chaos at that time. The farm, of 250 acres, included 150 acres of arable land, and many acres of woodland.


But in June 1950, reported the News Letter, “the whole place now is in a state orderliness and there are many features which the ordinary farmer might envy”.

The News Letter added: “The latest scientific methods are employed to get the utmost productivity out of the soil. For example, fields of oats, wheat, and grassland are divided into sections, each being sown with new varieties of seed, so that results may be compared and the best seed selected for future use.

Six-year-old Kelly Taggart, Irvinestown, winner of the First Ridden Class at Enniskillen Horse and Pony Show, receiving her rosette from the judges, Mary Doonen, Athlone and George O'Malley, Longford.

“Many of the ideas which arc being put Into operation are completely new to Ulster farming.

“For example, a method of saving hay which has been employed successfully for many years In Scandinavian countries, is being tried out, and may do much to alleviate the danger hay being lost after it cut owing to bad weather.

“A day of two after It cut, the hay is plied on a tripod raised up from the ground, so that it Is well ventilated and dries itself out in the peculiarly shaped stack.”


Seven-year-old Toby McAlpine from Augher on "Barley Sugar" winner of the Open First Ridden Class at Enniskillen Horse and Pony Show.

Another Continental idea which was being tried out is the growing of fodder beet from Denmark.

The News Letter’s agricultural correspondent noted: “This crop supposed to have a large yield of animal feeding stuff, as both the tops and the root can be utilised.

“The course of study at the college lasts for 10 months and is designed mainly for boys who intend to return to work on the farm, though .

“It also serves as a preliminary course for those who later proceed to university to study for a degree in agriculture.

Trini Cody (11) from Letterbreen on "Mr. Nash" a competitor in the under-13 class at Enniskillen Horse and Pony Show.

“Since the college re-formed it has been full to capacity, and the principal, Mr M Boyd, B Agr, is of the opinion that there will be no difficulty keeping it full in the future.”


A gymkhana and horse and cattle show had been held at Walter Meadow in Portaferry during this week in June 1950 reported the News Letter.

The show had been organised by the Portaferry Sports Committee, and the proceeds were in aid of the Cloughey Branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Mrs R G Garland, Newry, won two cups in additional to several other awards in the horse-jumping competitions.

Trophies were also presented to Miss P O’Neill, Anderstown, Messrs William Watson, Cloughey, Frank Savage, Portaferry, and Brian McNabb, Portaferry.

Lionel Johnston from Maguiresbridge on " Irish Border Queen" competing in the jumping classes at Enniskillen Horse and Pony Show.

The awards were presented by Lady Nugent.

First prizewinners in the dairy cattle section included Mr W Watson, and Mr S Muckle, Ballyboley, Greyabbey.

Horse section – Clydesdale Mare or Gelding, Mr B McNabb, Mona. Turnout horse and cart, Mr F Savage, Heather. Walk, trot and gallop for farm horses, Mr B Brown, Cloughey, Cloughey Queen.

Riding style and appearance (lady or gentleman), 1, Mrs R G Garland, Hopeful Marcus. Children’s ponies (riders under 12 years), Miss Z Gillespie, Cregagh Road, Belfast, Cloud.