Turkey Delight .

‘Turkey Delight’ at Colaiste Iosagain , Portarlington .(PIC CAPTIONS AT BOTTOM)

Fifth Year Leaving Certificate Applied students from Colaiste Iosagain , Portarlington recently gained national recognition for their innovative mini company project rearing turkeys for auction for charity .RTE radio and television ran prime time pieces on them along with Midlands Radio 3 .

Ellie Moore , the PRO for “Turkey Delight” in Colaiste Iosagain, Portarlington. ,explained how it all began . “As Fifth Year L.C.A. class in Colaiste Iosagain, Portarlington, we decided to rear fifteen turkeys for our mini company. This was something different, unique and challenging. We knew that running a real life mini company from start to finish would entail early mornings and a lot of hard work. We had a lot of planning and preparing to do for this mini-company to go ahead. We were running the mini-company in our Vocational Preparation class with Mr. Mitchell. He thought that it was a great idea as we would gain experience of a real life company from start to finish. Although he thought it was a good idea he said that we would have to clear it with Mr. Smith our L.C.A. co-ordinator and the Principal ,Mr. Bennett.”

Ellie says that they got advice and help from their Horticulture teacher Mr. O’Donnell.” We researched turkeys online, we spoke to local farmers who keep turkeys and also teachers who had a background in farming. They were all very positive but told us we would have to look after them and we would have a lot of responsibility and hard work.”
“We had to plan how to finance the purchasing of the turkeys, we had to organise the making of a run and shed. Most of the work making the run was done by the lads in our class with Mr. O’ Donnell. The shed we awere using to house the turkeys was already in the school yard, all we had to do was clean it out and get it ready with straw.”
“We needed money to finance the buying of the turkeys and their feed. Members of our class bought shares in our mini company and this gave us the start- up capital we needed. We bought the turkeys from Mr. Colin McDowell who is the manager of the Grove Turkey Farm in Treascon and we did a good deal with him. We contacted numerous local feed merchants to price the feed for the turkeys. We bought it from Grennan’s in Rath and Glanbia in Monastervein. Mr Mitchell felt that barley might be cheaper than turkey pellets and we got the feed at a very good price. We realised that feed this year was very expensive due to the bad summer we had. “
Ellie says there was great excitement in the school the day the turkeys arrived. ‘They arrived in style and were brought to the school by Mr. Mitchell and his father Paul who is a local Councillor and chairman of Laois County Council. They had the turkeys in the back of the big white van he used for canvassing during the local elections. The turkeys looked  happy, were a good size and really quiet.’

The students were all split into committees and all given different jobs to do. They had to work as part of a team and this has overlapped into all of the subjects they were studying e.g. Vocational Preparation, Maths, Horticulture, English, Art and Computers which  helped them to understand the workings of the mini company.
Ellie also said “We were very busy with the mini company and we had to work hard every day. We had to take responsibility for it ourselves, such as every morning we had to let them out into the run, water and feed them, while in the evenings we had to put  them into the shed and give them fresh water and bedding. We made out a rota and we all took turns looking after them. Most days we let them out to roam free and pick grass and clay as free range turkeys should do. It was a huge responsibility but we enjoyed it and it  brought us close together as a class. This even involved us coming in during the mid-term break ,we now have realised that farming is a 24/7 job’.

” Some of my classmates  secured sponsorship from local businesses in Portarlington and they  generously donated prizes for our raffle which we held on the day of auction. The raffle was to help us raise money for our mini-company to help pay our expenses. Any  money we have left over at the end of the project will be donated to a local charity. The turkeys were healthy and eating well and had grown and put on weight. We expected them  to be ready for our auction and in big demand.
“We were lucky that none of them died but there was a big scare in the school two weeks ago when a mink was seen walking around the turkey run. The mink got into the school building, there was total panic among the students but Mr. O’Donnell set a trap for him and he was caught in the toilet at 8pm that night.”

In conclusion Ellie said ‘We would like to thank all the teachers and staff for their work and help with the turkeys and also the local businesses in the town for their sponsorship.’
The auction was held on Thursday 6 December at 4pm and well supported by the local community with bidding reaching fever pitch under the expert hammer of Noel Dunne from the Farmers Journal .The dearest turkey called “Big Momma ” (24 pounds weight) sold for 170 euro with practically all making over 100 euro and indeed  most well over that .All expectations were well surpassed with over two and a half  thousand euro being raised almost four times the target initially set.This is being donated to the Denis Burkitt  Leukemia Ward in St. James Hospital in memory of former student Martin Slevin who was a patient there .Martin’s family were present at the auction and warmly welcomed by Deputy Principal ,Ms Higgins.


Colaiste Iosagain , Portarlington LCA students , Eoghan Flanagan , Conor Keogh and Ellie Moore (P.R.O. ) along with teacher , Miss Sugrue on a trip to Midlands Radio 3 to publicise their turkey mini company .

Visitors from Oakdale Nursing Home drop by as Mr Mitchell and Ellie Moore (P.R.O.) show them the Colaiste Iosagain , Portarlington LCA mini company turkeys .

Colaiste Iosagain , Portarlington LCA students with their mini company turkeys .

LCA students with their mini company turkeys outside their run and shed .

Teacher Mr O’Donnell with Gearoid McKay and John O’Neill at the pre auction turkey ‘weigh in ‘ at Colaiste Iosagain , Portarlington .

View from inside the Horticulture Department’s ‘poly tunnel’ looking out on the turkey run .

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