Farming & Fisheries

Celebrating West Cork’s people in agriculture

May 9th, 2022 3:00 PM

By Emma Connolly

Front, from left: Judges JJ Walsh, Marguerite Crowley, and Caroline Murphy, with Sean Mahon, managing director of The Southern Star and Neil Grant, general manager of the Celtic Ross Hotel launching the West Cork Farming Awards 2022. (Photo: John Beasley)

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Entries are open for this year’s West Cork Farming Awards with previous winners  saying the experience was a hugely positive one,  urging people to get involved

THIS year’s Southern Star and Celtic Ross Hotel West Cork Farming Awards are now open for entries.

The awards, in association with the Celtic Ross Hotel and Ifac, are designed to champion, promote and celebrate all that is great about the local farming community.

Speaking at a breakfast briefing in the Celtic Ross Hotel, Southern Star MD Seán Mahon said the awards were all about telling the ‘stories of people behind West Cork farming.’

‘It’s all about the people, and championing what they do,’ he said.

The awards are now in their eighth year, and going from strength to strength, and an exciting new category has been added to the line-up this year to reflect the uniqueness of West Cork farming. That’s the farming family award in recognition of the fact that families, and multi-generations, are the back bone of so many operations in the area.

‘Families are the bedrock of West Cork farming, they’re a precious commodity,’ said Sean, who encouraged people to enter the category by submitting a TikTok style video capturing the essence of what they do.

The breakfast briefing event, attended by figures from the agri-business and farming sector, along with sponsors, included a panel discussion with previous winners.

They were Clive Buttimer, from Ballinascarthy and last year’s drystock farmer of the year; Tom Griffin, Timoleague and last year’s dairy farmer of the year; Eoin Lynch, of Bantry Bay Farm Foods, winner of last year’s diversification award, along with judge Caroline Murphy of West Cork eggs.

The three past winners said the award had a hugely positive knock-on impact on what they do.

Eoin, with siblings John and Clodagh launched Bantry Bay Farm Foods last February, selling a 7kg beef box with various meat cuts.

The economic benefit of the win and publicity was immediately evident, he said, as they sold out for a full three months afterwards. ‘Since the win we’ve also had lots of people contacting us, who are keen to come and have a look and see what we’re all about,’ he said.

Clive and Tom agreed that sharing their stories through the awards process was a valuable experience.

As well as the farming family award, nominations are now open for: young farmer, dairy farmer, drystock, diversification and hall of fame.

Judge Caroline Murphy said the panel was most impressed by the passion and knowledge displayed by last year’s entrants, and said along with fellow judges Tom Curran, Teagasc; JJ Walsh, business advisor, and Marguerite Crowley, dairy farmer, they are looking forward to hearing from a new cohort of people this year. She advised nominees not to be ‘afraid to shout out about their achievements, and their plans.’

‘Be proud of what you do!’ she said.

Nominations are now open until June 9th.

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