“You never meet anyone that regrets travelling but you meet plenty of people who regret that they haven’t,” says Denis sagely.
It explains the 36-year-old farm manager’s peripatetic lifestyle as he grew up, haring from one continent to the next as he not only built up an enviable collection of passport stamps and cultural experiences, but an invaluable and vast experience of dairy farming across the world.
‘You learn a huge amount about life from interacting with different people and different cultures. It’s the perfect education in many ways, especially for this job.
“In America I worked with a Mexican and an Argentinian. Between the three of us there was a massive language barrier but we worked hard to get past that. By the end of our time we were completely in tune.”
An experienced farm manager, Denis not only has to juggle 1,500 cows, he also has to manage 11 people from a variety of backgrounds.
“My job is to get the best out of the people we have here,” smiles the County Cork father-of-one.
“There are language barriers to some extent – myself included! – and the staff range from 19 to 36. We have different needs, different approaches and we all need to be handled in a different way. That’s what makes it such a rewarding position.”
Married to Ruth and with a three-year-old son, Fintan, Denis has only been in post for six weeks but brings with him a wealth of experience.
“I grew up on a farm in Skibbereen which had 80 dairy cows. I went to agricultural college in Clonakilty but had a keen interest in travel. The best thing about this job is how transferable the skills are, so it enabled me to travel whilst gaining experience of different farming approaches along the way.”
Trips to America, India, South Africa and Australia, all farming, followed by a stint managing a dairy farm in New Zealand followed before he came back to Ireland aged 25, to go onto managing farms in Ireland and from 2008 in the UK.
As for Sansaw, January and February will be taken up with calving – always a logistical headache.
“It will be pretty hands-on, that’s for sure,” he says with a wry smile. “We have teams on the go 24/7 but we have to ensure that despite all the hard work and long hours that people really enjoy their job. We’ve got a great bunch of people here and they need looking after.”
Away from work, Denis likes to spend time with his family.
“We have a touring caravan so any time we can get away, we do,” Denis explains. “Our little boy loves it and it doesn’t really matter what the weather’s doing.
“My wife runs a business in Eccleshall and we’re both pretty busy so it’s nice to leave the jobs behind every so often and take a break. I need to get better at switching off, but there’s always a pull back to the farm.”