A year with the mussels

SAM 7524 - Version 2

 Mary McAndrew, PMP West and North West Catchment Officer gives us an insight into her first year on the job working with participant farmers in the programme.

“What a hectic first year it turned out to be in my role as catchment officer. I am really enjoying the work and cannot believe its been a year already!

When I started in 2018, one of my first jobs was presenting the programme to farmers in the catchments and getting feedback from them on what they felt would be important to include in the programme. It was also the first opportunity for farmers to meet a member of the PMP team.

Together with the rest of the PMP team we spent the winter designing the programme and went back to the catchments for discussion in February with farmers. The enthusiasm and positivity from the farmers has been one of the things that has stood out the most for me this year.

I have also been involved in training farm advisors who have been working on the project and providing them with support as they were out in the field scoring farms this summer. We also held a series of farmer training events over the summer and I really enjoyed meeting the farmers we will be working with over the coming years.

Dawros Farmer Particp Training Aug 2019b

Most of my summer was spent out in the catchments in Donegal, Connemara and Mayo scoring farms in the programme. We are lucky to be working in some of the most scenic parts of the country.

I loved the field work as it was something completely different to what I’m used to doing. Apart, that is, from the time I finished surveying a farm only to find I no longer had my keys, cue retracing my steps in a panic, thankfully to find them inside the gate of the field I had started in! Or the time two overly friendly heifers decided to pin me in the corner of a field and I had to ring the farmer to be rescued (I’m still living that one down at home, my dad says if it’s going to happen anyone it would have to be me !!).

I have really enjoyed my time getting to know the farmers in my catchments and building up a relationship with them all, so they know they can contact me at any stage to chat about the programme.


The programme also gave me new challenges and opportunities, including being interviewed for Connemara radio, leading a walk during the Connemara Green Week, appearing in Teagasc’s Todays Farm, getting to travel to different events hosted by other EIPS, attending farm shows and of course meeting Minister Creed at the launch of the PMP programme earlier this year.

Coming from a farming background, its so great to see that the minister and his department recognises the benefit of locally led projects and the willingness to invest in farmers at a local level and drive this process forward.

Overall its been a really busy and rewarding first year in the job. I am loving every minute of it and am looking forward to spending more time on the ground in the catchments meeting the farmers in the coming months to helping with farm measures on their farms to improve conditions for our mussels.”


© Pearl Mussel Project Ltd 2018