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Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition 2019
Ireland Regional Final

This year, once again, over 200 young Irish horticulturists competed in the Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIH) Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHoY) local heats. With heats in all the horticultural colleges in the island of Ireland (North and South), and this year for the first time, a heat held via Skype, our young horticulturists under the age of 30 competed for just 8 places in the regional final.

The 8 students with the highest scores from the local heats competed in this year’s Ireland Final, which was held on 14th March at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. The day-long event started off with a tour of the maginificent gardens followed by a wonderful lunch at the Visitor Centre.

The large crowd of supporters – families, fellow students and staff - then proceeded to Auditorium at the Visitor Centre to support their star horticulturalists in the quiz. We were delighted to welcome Gerald Bonner, CHort, FCIHort, President of the Chartered Insititute of Horticulture, to the Ireland Final. The reigning champion, Leo Walsh, fought off the competition to take the trophy for the second time. There was a close battle for the runner-up position, with Ruta Makaraite, Teagasc College, Glasnevin coming out just ahead of Rachel McElfatrick, from CAFRE, Greenmount, Co. Antrim, who placed third. The overall order of all of the contestants at the end of the quiz was:

1st: Leo Walsh, Universal Floral.
2nd: Ruta Makaraite, WIT/Teagasc National Botanic Gardens, Dublin
3rd: Rachel McElfatrick, CAFRE Greenmount Campus County Antrim
4th: David O’Neill, WIT/Teagasc Kildalton College
5th: Joanne Clinton, WIT/Teagasc National Botanic Gardens, Dublin
6th: Conor Gallinagh, Horticulture consultant, Donegal
7th: Kierán Clune, Cork Institute of Technology, Co Cork
8th: Ben Ward, CAFRE Greenmount Campus County Antrim
Leo won a voucher of €200 (courtesy of Bord Bia), a fork and spade (courtesy of Bulldog)
and the beautiful book ‘Irish Heritage Plants’, a joint publication by the ISBA and the Irish
Garden Plant Society.

Grand Final 2019
Leo went on to represent Ireland at the YHOY Grand Final on 11th May. Our hosts this year were the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Richard Barley, B. App. Sci (Hort), MCIHort, FLS, Kew’s Director of Horticulture, Learning and Operations, was an able and engaging quizmaster, immediately putting the contestants at ease and deftly managing what became a hotly contested competition. A nail-biting, sudden-death tiebreaker round saw Kew’s own Richard Moore declared 2019’s Young Horticulturist of the Year, and winner of the £2,500 travel bursary sponsored by the Shropshire Horticultural Society. In an unprecedented gesture, the Society also decided to offer a £2,000 travel bursary to the runner-up, Emily Marsden, because it had been such a tightly-contested final round. Our Leo did us proud, ultimately finishing in 5th place overall.

In his address, President of the Chartered Institute, Gerald Bonner, highlighted Bord Bia as one of the major sponsors of YHOY, and made a point of thanking Bord Bia and its representative, Carol Marks, for the continued and generous support they give to the Young Horticulturist competition.

The Ireland Branch of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture is very grateful for the ongoing support and sponsorship from Bord Bia, without whom it would not be possible to host such a wonderful event.


Young Horticulturist of the Year Irish finals - Botanic Gardens

Young Horticulturist of the Year Grand Final at Kew