DOING THE BUSINESS: Donegal Daily in conjunction with the ETB will be profiling a number of individuals and businesses who have successfully graduated from one of the many training programmes ETB has to offer.
As the ETB launch their latest diverse range of courses, Donegal Daily spoke with Damien Egan, who successfully completed a Horticulture course at the ETB Letterkenny Training Centre this year. The Ardara native finished his course in July, and took on a part-time role at Oakfield Park just days after finishing the programme.
Damien had been retired from a career working in catering for the health service when he decided to see what courses were on offer at the Donegal ETB. Horticulture appealed directly to his interests in home gardening and brought him on a journey of discovery through the landscapes of Donegal, he told Donegal Daily.
The 41-week Level 5 course initially presented a tough challenge for Damien, he said. “I found it very hard as I hadn’t been in school for more than 30 years. It was tough but I got there in the end,” he said.
His course involved four days of classes per week and one day per week of on-the-job training. Damien worked at Oakfield Park in Raphoe, where he had the chance to sharpen his skills among the vast parkland and rich variety of plants.
The Horticulture programme was an intense learning experience, said Damien. “I soon realised that I knew very little about the subject as I was a home gardener. I knew nothing about soil science, about planting and where to plant. Then at Oakfield Park, it was very hands-on. No two days are the same and there is variety all the time.”
Damien’s class learned their trade while working on a greenfield site outside their training centre in Letterkenny. They had classes focused on developing the site, including the installation of a polytunnel and raised beds.
The course was intensive for a short period of time, Damien said. He would advise anyone considering taking the course to do plenty of research to make sure it’s a path that will suit them.
Looking back, he realised that his gardening knowledge was very basic for taking on the horticulture training. However, the opportunities it presented him with were worth the hard work, he said.
“If it’s what you want, go for it. It is very intense, but the rewards are good. I’m now in a part-time job and enjoying working out in the fresh air. It’s a healthy job,” he said.
Damien’s course led him to discover beautiful gardens around Donegal he didn’t know had existed before. His training brought him to Oakfield Park for the first time, where he is happily working today.
For further information on these programs and others contact Sarah on 074-9120542: