Programme puts mart life in the spotlight

I don't look at myself as the weaker sex. Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I'm running around in high heel shoes ' I'm built like a man and work like a man: Mary Patterson
I don't look at myself as the weaker sex. Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I'm running around in high heel shoes ' I'm built like a man and work like a man: Mary Patterson

Clogher Mart, where every Saturday more than one thousand animals are brought to be sold by auction at County Tyrone’s largest cattle market, is to feature on BBC television next week.

Farmers and cattle dealers arrive from throughout the Clogher Valley and further afield to buy, to sell, or simply to witness the spectacle. The fate of many of the ‘small’ farmers depends on their success buying and selling at the mart.

This is the beating heart of the local farming community. However, as farming becomes increasingly regulated and costly, this way of life is becoming more difficult and some wonder how long it can continue. And will the next generation of farmers be willing to plough the same difficult furrow as their parents?

True North: The Cattle Mart takes viewers into this close-knit world of the mart and its people as they determinedly struggle on in their chosen way of life.

Local farmer Mary Patterson explained: “I don’t look at myself as the weaker sex. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m running around in high heel shoes – I’m built like a man and work like a man.”

Mary has her own farm, but with eight children to look after she must also work part-time at the mart. Mary handles the calves and is a well-known, respected figure at the mart.

I don’t look at myself as the weaker sex. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m running around in high heel shoes – I’m built like a man and work like a man

Farmer Mary Patterson

The film follows Mary as she anxiously waits for own cattle to be given the all-clear as tuberculosis spreads throughout her neighbours’ herds. We also meet the farmer, Harry McAnespie, who is selling his bullocks at the mart and who is hoping the time and money he has put into rearing them will pay off.

Then there are the auctioneers, from the seasoned professionals to the 19-year-old newcomer James McCarney, fresh-faced and undaunted by the prospect of selling to farmers who have been coming to the mart for decades.

True North: The Cattle Mart will air on Monday, April 20, BBC One Northern Ireland at 10.45pm.