Meet our new board representative for the UK and Ireland: Fiona O’Leary!

During our General Assembly this summer, we elected four new members to our board. Today we’d like to introduce you to our new representative for Group 1 (UK and Ireland) Fiona O’Leary from member organisation Macra na Feirme in Ireland. Find out more about her below:

Introduce yourself! 👋

My name is Fiona O’leary and I am a member of Macra na Feirme in Ireland. My club is Bantry Macra and my region is Carbery which is in county Cork. I moved club from Dumanway Macra Club to Bantry Macra in 2020. During my time in Dunmanway Macra I held every club role including Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. In my second year of Macra, I was elected as Vice Secretary of the Carbery region and since then I have held a role on the Development Committee, the Radio Officer, Rural Youth Officer and for 4 years I held the role of National Council Representative.

During this time, I sat on the Rural Youth Committee for 1 year and competitions committee for 3 years. I also served as Vice Chair and Chair of the Competitions Committee. I think the competitions in Macra play an important role in developing new skills and challenging members to live beyond their comfort zones.

What are the main skills that you’ve gained from being a part of your home rural youth organisation?

I joined when I was 18, therefore it has been such a huge part of my adult life. So it is honestly hard to say!

It has developed my leadership skills, my ability to work with others. It has challenged and inspired me. I have chaired meetings and spoken to rooms of 100s of people and hosted webinars which were put on the internet for the world to see. It has created friends for me in every corner of Ireland. Whilst I have aways been an organised and an out-there kind of person, it lets me use those skills. It has taught me how to organise events that make a profit and how to inspire others and show gratitude for kindness that you get in return. Macra is my community, they are my people.

Why did you want to be the Group 1 representative for Rural Youth Europe?

I have always been so impressed by Rural Youth Europe since I attended the Autumn Seminar in 2018. I think having served as National Council Member for the biggest region in Ireland for 4 years has given me the skill-set to represent Group 1 well. I come with a Master’s in Business Law and a diploma in Youth and Community work, as well as lots of hands on work in Macra over the last 14 years.

I think Rural Youth Europe offers amazing opportunities to members across Europe and I want to be part of delivering the same. The opportunity to get involved at a policy level on a European level is also very exciting.

What is your favourite Rural Youth Europe memory?

When I was in Finland in 2018 I met Linzi, former Chair, I thought she was so kind and inspiring, she had such a way with everyone she talked to. I also loved the dancing during the 2018 Autumn Seminar!

What would you like to achieve during your time as Group 1 representative?

I would like to ensure I represent the needs and wants of all of the Group 1 nations well. I want to work with the board in setting and achieving goals. I want to see the wonderful events that exist continue to be delivered to the highest standard, whilst seeing if there are ways in which RYEurope can have a greater impact on grass-root members.

What would you bring to an international buffet?

Well, I’d have to bring Irish Tayto so that the Northern or Republic Tayto saga can continue!