Tuesday, September 27, 2022

MARRIED to dairy farmer James, with whom she has four girls – Alison (11), Nessa (9), Julie (4) and Claire (1), Aileen Barron is Managing Director at Green Acre Marketing, which she formed almost nine years ago. In the interim, Green Acre has established itself as a leading marketing agency supporting the Irish agri sector. The family live on their farm at Kilronan, Butlerstown.  

Life in a day 

My first job of the day before anyone gets up is to head to the stables and ensure the ponies are first to be fed! I usually head for the office around 8:30am, which is only a short drive. My role in the company is to ensure the wheels keep turning so that the business continues to grow, and I act as a support person to the team on various jobs. What lands on my desk can vary from a press release to be reviewed to brainstorming for clients to submitting client proposals. Coffee at 11am is mandatory! There is some travel involved, especially when managing PR shoots or large events such as the National Ploughing Championships so that takes me around the country. As the business deals solely with businesses operating in the agri sector, I’m very much at home when jobs take me out on farm. The madness starts again around 5:30pm when I get home and my taxi service varies from drops to swimming, camogie or pony events. Everyone needs a bit of madness in their life so I try to embrace it. 

What school did you go to? 

I went to primary school in Butlerstown and then to Stella Maris in Tramore. I was a conscientious type of child but sport was definitely my favourite part of school. I didn’t really find any particular subject in school that I could relate to and just learned what was in front of me. I like to explain to my children how what they are learning now applies to the bigger picture. 

What teacher do you remember most vividly?  

I have two – one for the right reasons and one for the wrong! I loved my Stella Maris PE and  Maths teacher (Ms Bolger) and not just because of PE. She was just a really nice person. My English teacher once told me I probably wasn’t going to be college standard so as someone that has been through college and gets paid to write content and proofread on a daily basis, I will just leave that there!  

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self? 

I’m not sure I was ever in a mood to be told at that age but if I was to listen, I would probably tell her there’s a world of opportunity outside of what you can see now, and you are as entitled to chase those opportunities as anyone else. So work hard and stick the course even when it feels like a waste of energy.  

How do you relax? 

That’s the toughest question yet as I have kind of forgotten how to. I do like to take a stroll down the fields and just breathe. A large glass of wine with friends is also a welcome event. 

What is your favourite film and piece of music? 

Favourite film is definitely a Christmas fix of ‘Love Actually’. I don’t tend to be the type of person who sits and listens to music and maybe I’ll learn that skill in later life, but I’m a lover of Pink for both her music and her fighting spirit. 

When was the last time you cried? 

This one is still quite raw but I cried a lot recently over the passing of Jack de Bromhead. He was the most gorgeous little boy and as neighbours, we loved when his happy face would appear across the fields. He had such a warm friendly presence and although mischievous, was always kind and mannerly. There was no doubt he was on course to big things and as a mutual friend recently commented: “We were all going to enjoy watching him shine”. 

What has been your happiest moment of recent times? 

The most recent one was when our daughter Nessa came second at the Dublin Horse Show a few weeks back. With wisdom and ambition beyond her years, she set out this season with an absolute determination that she was going to get to Dublin with one of her ponies and enjoy every moment of it. It was such a lovely, happy day for us all as a family. Anyone involved in horses knows the work it takes, so you have to have these happy days to keep you at it.  

Do you pray? 

Yes, I do. I am not a regular mass goer but I do have a strong faith that there is something out there. I think everyone needs to lean on that at some point or another. 

What is your biggest fear? 

Somewhere between spiders and balloons – yes a fear of balloons is a real thing! I have deeper, less superficial fears but these things are somewhat outside of our control so I try not to give them too much thought. 

What is your most treasured possession? 

I am not big on possessions – my husband might be surprised to hear me say that! I am more about how things make me feel. I have a piece of jewellery for each of my children so those pieces are important to me for what they represent. After my first year in business, I bought myself a beautiful Mulberry handbag. A token to myself to mark that milestone so again that is more about the hard work it represents. 

What is your favourite thing about Waterford? 

The countryside. Simply that. We have beaches, mountains, lots of green, open countryside. It’s beautiful. 

If you could change one thing about Waterford, what would it be? 

Our city centre. Perhaps controversial but I don’t believe our city represents the beauty of our county as well as it could. We badly need some sort of shopping destination. A place to go, just to browse. We have the food factor covered with some of the best restaurants so I think the shopping piece remains the missing one. 

In conversation with Dermot Keyes 

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