Galway’s IFA leader gets a hero’s welcome home

Newly elected IFA President Joe Healy and his wife Margaret at the homecoming celebrations in the Raheen Woods Hotel in Athenry on Tuesday night. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway’s newly elected President of Irish Farmers’ Association was welcomed home to his native Athenry with roadside bonfires and celebrations following his landslide victory in the race for the top job at one of Ireland’s most formidable lobbying groups.

Joe Healy, the dairy farmer from Derrydonnell, took 14,222 votes in the nationwide poll of IFA members and will now take the reins of an organisation in turmoil following last November’s remuneration crisis.

The Galway man won widespread support in his own county, taking 3,702 of the 3,799 votes cast in what was a huge turnout of around 85 per cent – compared to around 30 per cent nationally.

This, in no small measure, was down to a huge effort by Healy’s team to win support for the former Macra na Feirme President in his bid to become only the second Galway man to lead the organisation.

“It was incredible to get 3,700 votes in the country, what was probably as big a vote as ever came out of Galway; not only that, but the number of people that got involved in the campaign.

“They met people on the doors, they met them in the sheds, they met them out in the fields – wherever they had to be met, they went and met them and it’s reflected in the result that we got all over the country,” said Mr Healy.

A celebration was held in the Raheen Woods for the new president as he returned from the day-long count in Dublin with his wife and three daughters.

Surrounded by friends and family, including John Donnelly, the only former Galway IFA President – whom Mr Healy described as an “inspiration” and long-time friend – the “new face” of the IFA thanked those who came out and voted for him.

“There was a massive crowd there – the place was packed – they were all there, friends, neighbours, cousins, aunts, uncles, everyone you could think of, as well as a whole heap of farmers from around the county as well,” he said.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.