It’s going to be busy on John Dunnes’ farm in Shanagarry in east Cork this Thursday evening and Friday morning as hundreds of farmers attend Goldcrop’s open days. Years ago, I remember the excitement of the open days but not as a journalist, from a very different perspective – inside the doors of Goldcrop. For 25 years, my Dad worked there. After leaving school, he made his way down the South Mall in Cork to work in Suttons and later, he followed the path down Centre Park Road to Goldcrop.

Probably 20 years later, I remember helping to pack up the office as they made the big move to Carrigtwohill. As Dad and I drove away from Centre Park Road for the last time, I remember him saying that, after every big event in his life – getting married, children being born, he got up on the Monday morning and drove to that office.

I was thinking about this recently writing our front cover feature with Janine Kennedy. We feature three Irish family businesses – Keoghs Crisps, Finline Furniture and Nutshed. The common theme throughout is family working together. Tom Keogh, Ciaran Finane and Eliza and Evie Ward all followed in their parent’s footsteps and talk about how their father is still a constant support as they bring their business forward.

Huffing and puffing

In my situation, it isn’t a family business but when I went to college, I worked in Goldcrop during the summers. All I can say is, my poor Dad. My father is a man that likes to be in the office early, and probably never was late a day in his life…until I started working with him and he had to haul me out the door. I remember him huffing and puffing as we sat in traffic in the Jack Lynch tunnel on the way to Carrigtwohill; and querying my questionable filing system. If Dad hadn’t ended up in Goldcrop though, he would have made an excellent teacher and I also remember him teaching me about different crops and how to balance books; lessons I didn’t think I would need later in life, but turned out to be quite valuable. I also remember us laughing in the car together listening to Gift Grub on the radio and being glued to the sports coverage when Cork hurling was in their golden days in the early noughties. Indeed, they are happy memories.

But as Tom Keogh says, it can also be a privilege to work with family and spend that time together, and it’s an important one to remember this Father’s Day

In Ireland, there are 173,000 family businesses. Collectively, these businesses employ nearly a million people and there are many families working together every day on farms. I’m sure it’s not always easy. In fact, when people have very different views on the direction of a business, there can be difficult days. But as Tom Keogh says, it can also be a privilege to work with family and spend that time together, and it’s an important one to remember this Father’s Day.

Heartbreaking news

While we have lovely uplifting reads this week, there is an article that some readers may find tough. Sadly, Katherine O’Leary recently found out that her cancer has returned. Her column is raw and heartbreaking as she recounts the devastating moment when her doctor delivered the news. Although Katherine had told me her news before sending her column, I still read it through watery eyes. I know many readers have followed Katherine’s journey, not just in the last year when she had her first diagnosis, but over the last 20 years that she has been writing in Irish Country Living, so I’m conscious it may be difficult to read.

However, I remember the editorial that I wrote back in February when Katherine had gotten the all-clear and Brenda O’Donoghue had visited the farm with RTÉ’s Countrywide. She spoke about how touched she was by our readers and the support she received. The well-wishes came from far and wide and I’m sure you’ll join me once again in wishing Katherine and her family good health and happiness. Katherine, we’re right here with you.