|Rachel Martin, Chairman
Rachel Martin specialises in writing about agri-business and dairying for digital farming news publication AgriLand. Previously, she worked as a news and business reporter at one of Northern Ireland’s biggest daily newspapers. In 2017, she was named one of IFAJ’s 10 Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism and won a stipend towards the annual congress in South Africa. In 2019, she won the IFAJ/Caterpillar Ag-Tech Reporting Award and was runner-up for the same award in 2020. She has also taken part in the IFAJ Exposure 4 Development tour to Brazil and has previously held the role of secretary within the guild. During her time as secretary she ran the northern branch’s first ever professional development conference.
Rebecca McConnell, Secretary
Rebecca McConnell runs a PR and social media consultancy, Purple Rain, which she established in February 2011. After graduating with an Economics degree from Queen’s University, she began her communications career in a leading Belfast PR agency in 2006 having developed an interest in PR volunteering with her local Young Farmers’ Club. She is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) gaining Accredited Practitioner status in January 2013. In September 2017, she travelled to Switzerland for the IFAJ Press Trip to experience the Entlebuch Alpabfahrt. She lives in Rathfriland, County Down not far from the picturesque Mourne Mountains, on a dairy farm where her family also grows potatoes and operates a silage contracting business.
Tom Morrow, Treasurer
Tom Morrow is Northern Correspondent with the Irish Farmers Journal, the predominant farming newspaper in Ireland. Earlier in his career he worked with United Dairy Farmers and the Milk Marketing Board for Northern Ireland looking after the farm services side of these businesses. The first step in his career was with Richardson’s Fertilisers after studies in agriculture and agricultural economics at Queen’s University Belfast. He is currently the treasurer of the Northern Section of the Guild.
Brian Donaldson has been an agricultural journalist for 44 years, with more than 40 years on the staff of The Impartial Reporter & Farmers’ Journal newspaper in Enniskillen. He is currently freelancing, mostly for The Impartial Reporter newspaper and edits a periodical farming magazine, Farming Journal. Brian, an award-winning journalist in the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland biennial awards contest, has been a member since 1996 and has served as NI Chairman and All-Ireland President. He has just completed serving as International Delegate on the IFAJ Executive Committee for the past three years. He has attended numerous IFAJ congresses around the world and encourages younger agricultural journalists to participate in Guild and IFAJ activities to further their careers.
Kathryn Williamson is a marketing and communications professional with an active interest in the agriculture sector in Northern Ireland. She is currently Marketing Manager of Countryside Services, an agri company based in Dungannon, specialising in animal identification, grants and schemes and training. This follows three fast-paced maternity covers including Group Marketing Manager at an innovative multi-channel retailer, as well as communications management roles at Visit Belfast and Woodland Trust. Kathryn spent three enjoyable years managing the marketing and communications for Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, whose main showpiece is Balmoral Show.
As Senior Communications Director at Morrow Communications, Nicola McClean leads a number of Morrow Communications’ key accounts including Asda, DWF, Moy Park Brand, Flahavan’s Porridge, Neill’s Flour, Bloc Blinds, Greggs and Irwin’s Bakery. As well as providing strategic direction and oversight on corporate and brand communications, Nicola, also a member of Morrow Communications Creative Services team, provides imaginative solutions for her clients, which deliver results across NI, ROI & GB markets. Nicola joined Morrow Communications in 2007 after graduating from Ulster University with a First Class BSc Honours degree in Communications, Advertising & Marketing. With 13 years’ experience working in the industry Nicola brings a wealth of knowledge as a skilled communicator and creative thinker to her new position as Senior Communications Director.
Chris McCullough is a freelance multi-media journalist based in Belfast and specialises in all aspects of agriculture. He has spent the past 18 years travelling the globe hunting for the best stories in food, farming and politics. Chris was brought up on a dairy and beef farm in the heart of Northern Ireland. He has reported extensively from overseas, mostly throughout Europe but also from USA, Canada, India, Australia and African nations on various topics. Chris is now writing for media in 21 countries in six continents. He has won a number of awards for his photos and journalism and is always on the lookout for his next exclusive.
Tracey Donaghey is communications officer at the Ulster Farmers’ Union. Prior to this she worked as a journalist for the Irish Farmers Journal/Irish Country Living for two years covering a wide range of topics. It was during this time Tracey’s feature Hidden Homelessness which was written in collaboration with colleague Anne O’Donoghue, was shortlisted for the 2018 Guild of Agricultural Journalism Awards in the Print – Feature category. She was welcomed onto the committee in June 2020.
|Amy Forde – Chair
Amy Forde is deputy news editor with the Irish Farmers Journal, Ireland’s largest agriculture and rural affairs publication. Amy covers a broad range of news and features for the Irish Farmers Journal. She joined the Guild in 2017. In 2019 she joined the committee and was also elected chair in the same year. In 2019 she took part in the IFAJ’s Exposure-4-Development tour to Brazil. Hailing from Galway, she holds an MA in Journalism and Media Communications from Griffith College Dublin and holds a BA in Arts (Geography and Irish) from NUIG.
Maria Daly, Secretary
Maria Daly is communications manager for Europe with animal nutrition company, Alltech.
Elaine Crosse – Treasurer
Elaine Crosse is a communications specialist with Bord Bia. Elaine has worked for the organisation in the promotion of the food and drink industry since 2011 and has since completed the Food Marketing Graduate Programme with DIT. Bord Bia’s multi-functional communications team work across consumer and corporate affairs, incorporating the requirements of the many sectors and stakeholders within the agri-food industry as well as those of Bord Bia’s 13 overseas offices. A proud Tipperary woman, Elaine completed a degree in Business Studies at the University of Limerick before taking up her role in Bord Bia.
Southern Section Committee members: Miriam Atkins
Miriam Atkins is Editorial Director at IFP Media. Prior to this, she was Editor of FOOD&WINE Magazine, Editor of IrishFood Magazine, Deputy Editor of Irish Farmers Monthly, Deputy Editor of Veterinary Ireland Journal, and worked on the Editorial Steering Group for Teagasc’s scientific publication, TResearch. Miriam is a previous Chair of the Southern Section of the Guild. Originally from Wicklow, Miriam has a Masters Degree in English Literature.
Patrick Donohoe is news editor of the Irish Farmers Journal – Ireland’s largest and most successful agriculture and rural affairs publication. In his time at the Irish Farmers Journal, Patrick has been nominated for four Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ awards, winning one of them. He was also part of the Irish Farmers Journal team that won at the 2017 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) awards in the Digital Media category. Patrick joined the Irish Farmers Journal in May 2013 having previously been an award-winning public relations practitioner for six years. He also worked as a contributor with the Irish Examiner farming supplement covering a broad range of agricultural issues. Patrick runs a suckler-to-weanling farm in Co Longford.
Liam Lavelle is a television producer with Independent Pictures, one of Ireland’s leading TV production companies. He has worked on the company’s long running farming and rural affairs show, Ear to the Ground for all of its 25 seasons. In addition head has produced many diverse series on food and farming for RTE, TG4 and BBC. He began his career as an agricultural journalist with a trade magazine covering farm machinery, and after a couple of years as a member relations officer in Canada, returned to produce training films for Irish farmers. He began working in television in 1990 and has produced many series on pets, crime, antiques, cooking, travel and music. In recent years have has helped to develop the award winning series Big Week on the Farm, an eclectic live show that covers science, nature and farming for a week in April each year. Liam has been a Guild member since 1980 and has served as Chair of the Southern Section and President of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland. He has four children and lives in South County Dublin and is a keen basketball player with UCD Marian.
Niall Madigan is the National Press Officer for the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), Ireland’s largest farm representative organisation with over 75,000 members. He has worked closely with five IFA Presidents in advising on communications strategies for campaigns at national and European level. He joined the Guild of Agricultural Journalists in 2005 when he took up his role with IFA. Niall served as Secretary to the Guild from 2012-2017. From a farming background in Co Limerick, he worked as a broadcast journalist and current affairs presenter with Radio Kerry from 1997 to 2005. He is a BA graduate from UCD where he studied Politics and Economics.
David is the Publisher of IFP Media, which is the largest B2B publishing house in Ireland. He joined the Guild in 1978 and has served on the committee over the years. He chaired the organising committee for the IFAJ congress, which was held in Ireland in 1996. He has also served the GOAJ as Chairman and President. He was appointed World President of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in 2004 until 2008. He was made an Honorary member of the Guild in 2011, for his services to the organisation.
Damien O’Reilly Damien O’Reilly is a broadcast journalist with RTE Radio 1 where he has worked since 1998. He presents Countrywide every Saturday morning. In 2012 and 2014, he won the IFAJ star prize for broadcasting and was also named the PPI speech broadcaster of the year for 2015. He has presented numerous other programmes on RTE Radio and was part of the RTE Sport team covering the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and Rio in 2016. Damien is a former chairman, secretary and treasurer of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland. He is a founder member and current secretary of the European Network of Agricultural Journalists. He is also a former Irish executive member of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).
Gemma Smyth is an accomplished communications professional who has worked with the Irish agri-food industry for more than 14 years. Formerly an Account Director with leading international strategic communications agency, FTI Consulting, Gemma has advised on and delivered strategic communications for some of Ireland’s leading organisations and brands. Gemma’s current client portfolio includes prominent names in the Irish agri-food and drink industry including Bord Bia, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Agricultural Science Association and the Irish Angus Producer Group, among others. Gemma began her career with Agri Aware, the public awareness body responsible for promoting food and farming in Ireland. In this role Gemma was a recipient of a Guild of Agricultural Journalists award in the ‘Targeted and Technical Communication’ category.