James McLoughlin – An Appreciation


27/6/24: James McLoughlin was the Farm Manager at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation during the 1980's. James died on 19th June 2024. For his wake, his family carried his coffin from the Glencree Centre down the long winding laneway to his home, the hill farm called Aurora, where he lived with his wife Sarah and their three daughters - Karin, Kate and Amy. Their home commanded a wonderful view across the top of the valley.

The first photo taken in the 1980’s shows James as we knew him – the Farm Manager at our Glencree Centre. The second photo is a recent picture taken during his long illness bravely fought.

To say that James was the farm manager is an underestimation. He had a vision for a project that he created on the two fields that the Centre purchased from Desmond Goode. He gathered a team of long-term volunteers around him to build a farm shed for the cows and the creamery. The cream cheese was superb, perfected with Elayne’s help, and sold locally in the markets.

While James worked hard to become an expert hill farmer, he succeeded because he had lots of skills other than farming. His enthusiasm inspired others to engineer an environmentally sustainable living community on the produce of the farm. One of the volunteers, Paul, took charge of the vegetable growing and got hold of two Polytunnels so vegetables could be grown for a longer season. In the summer, all available volunteers and helpers went up the road to the turf bogs to dig the turf for the winter fuel stocks. The farm tractor made many more things possible including the loading of turf.

All of these activities combined to become a farm Education Project which saw primary school children coming up from the city to see the cows being milked, to feed the ducks in a little pond and to handle other animals. This was way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the whole project came to an end in 1988-9 because the finances of the Centre took a tumble. Having to leave the project behind affected James deeply.

Thank you James for your huge contribution in transforming the adjoining fields into such a productive space. Your vision became a reality shared by many. Maybe another generation will soon come along to bring to life again a sustainable environment hill farm that can also be an educational resource.

Geoffrey Corry