Why not form a Guild?
In mid 1961 the editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, Paddy O’Keeffe, attended an agricultural show in Brussels and met up with some members of the executive committee of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.
They discussed that Ireland didn’t have any kind of association parallel to those of France, Germany, the U.K. and other European countries, which had emerged since the Second World War and had subsequently federated. It was agreed that the then President of IFAJ would visit Ireland and see what could be done.
Over dinner in Dublin with a small group of the practitioners of the day he raised a debate about why we should form a guild. The deciding question was why should we not form one? It would serve as a useful meeting point and by joining the IFAJ, would open up a valuable range of international contacts.
It was also agreed that, to give some weight of numbers to the guild, we should establish it on an all-Ireland basis.
Thus the first meeting was arranged for Dundalk, an approximate mid-point between Dublin and Belfast. It was attended by the above mentioned Paddy O’Keeffe, freelance writer and broadcaster Michael Dillon, Con Murphy, public relations manager of the Irish Sugar Co. and Larry Sheedy, then deputy editor of the Farmers Journal, all travelling in one car from Dublin. The fact is it would have been very hard to fill a second car, such was the state of development of agricultural communications in Ireland in 1961.
They were met by William Morrow, agricultural correspondent of the Belfast Telegraph, accompanied by two prominent Northern Ireland public relations men, William Carter and Arthur Campbell.
Dundalk continued to be a convenient and comfortable location for the Guild’s monthly meetings and numbers grew steadily through the Sixties. Then came the disruption of the serious sectarian strife in Northern Ireland in 1969. Dundalk lost its comfort as a meeting point but the success of the Irish Guild was too significant to be just abandoned.
It was decided that the Guild would continue its good work in two sections, northern and southern, separated for ordinary meetings but coming together under an all-Ireland Committee, comprised of the officers of both sections and with alternating Presidents and Secretaries.
That formula has worked very smoothly up to the present day.