Few people have had such a varied career within agriculture at departmental level than Connor Maguire, who completed some 43 years of service when he retired recently. He has worked with farmers, the agricultural industry, as well as being involved in education and farm management.

Connor retired as Estates Director at Enniskillen Campus of CAFRE, a role he has held since 2001.

This may seem a long time after starting out on his career in the Agriculture Advisory Service based in the Crown Buildings, Enniskillen, in 1979 at a time when inflation was running at 17 per cent and the price of farmland was around £2000 per acre.

As a general adviser, Connor was involved with liaising with farmers over land improvement schemes.

He became well known as a Dairying Development Adviser for South Fermanagh and West Tyrone during the late 1980’s and 1990’s until 1998.

At the time there would have been close liaison with Enniskillen College of Agriculture helping to co-ordinate advisory and education events on grassland management, silage quality, feeding, milk production, suckler and beef production, sheep breeding, milk quality, calf rearing and farm accounts and organising visits to farms by College students. He first met Seamus McAlinney during some of the cross-over of this work and eventually both of them would be working side by side in their respective roles at the College for the past 20 years or so.

Connor would have worked closely with Fermanagh Grassland Club, serving as Treasurer for 20 years and also as Chairman and he was also involved in the first on-farm discussion groups when up to 20 dairy farmers would have met to discuss and learn from each other. This was influenced by New Zealand advisers working in the Republic of Ireland on the theme of maximising grass.

He was also involved in enabling farmers to draw support from the Vaughan Trust which helped to pay for high calibre speakers to come to Fermanagh and which helped with funding study tours to Scotland, England and the Republic of Ireland.

He recalls the innovative technology supported by the Vaughan Trust in 1980’s which allowed video conferencing of meetings between Fermanagh Grassland Club and speakers in the Isle of Man and New Zealand.

In 1999 Connor joined Enniskillen College as a Dairying and Grassland Lecturer where he was involved in the spring calving dairy herd and he was there to help equine students with their expertise on grass.

By 2001, Connor was a Senior Lecturer and Farm Director and would have accompanied students on study trips to Europe.

As the equine education provision expanded from the first horses at the College in 1992, the livestock aspects of the College reduced and he oversaw the disposal of all cattle and sheep enterprises by 2008. There was an increasing emphasis on the importance of horses at the College in the 2000s and he became involved in significant investments in equine facilities and enterprises such as specialist horse fencing.

As someone who saw what Enniskillen Campus farm offered to the livestock farmer, Connor soon realised the potential it had for those working with horses, with its scenic farmland overlooking Drumgay Lough, the associated woodland, nature and wildlife as well as the green spaces which he firmly believes contribute to physical and mental wellbeing. He became involved in diversifying the land to broaden the biodiversity.

In his role, he was in charge of energy use and also agri-environment development, working alongside Countryside Management Branch.

It was easy to see that not only was the College and its farmland diversifying into new activities, but Connor faced the many opportunities and challenges with his usual enthusiasm and meticulous planning. His many differing roles in his career are testament to his open mindedness and he was able to see the benefits which such ventures would bring to the local area.

Looking back over his varied career, Connor said his fondest moments were working in personal development where on occasions he helped farmers gain self-belief as well as helping farmers through the difficulties many of them had when faced with challenges such as milk quotas. His down to earth nature helped him bond easily with farming families and many of them have progressed their farming businesses as a result of his advice and guidance. He later learned how some of those he helped to mentor, were soon leaving behind the isolation of their farms to mix more freely with fellow farmers on outings and attending meetings.

A strong advocate of teamwork, he said a lot can be achieved when working together, as he saw through the various branches of the Civil Service.

His work might have seemed years away from growing up on a mixed farm between Dromore and Omagh but he would be the first to say the ethos instilled on him from those early years helped along each step of his career.

While still enjoying the countryside, Connor hopes to have more time for his hobbies of DIY and gardening. He also hopes to travel more across to England. He and his wife, Anne have two sons, Finbar and Cormac, both doctors there and of course he hopes to fit in a few more matches involving his beloved Liverpool F.C.