THE top two National Quality Milk Awards were presented in Dublin this week to farmers from West Cork.
First prize for farming the best quality milk was awarded to Kieran and Catherine O’Sullivan, from Dunmanus, Goleen, who supply their milk to Drinagh Co-Op, while Denis, Siobhan, Barry and Jane O’Mahony from Shanakiel, Kilbrittain, who supply milk to Barryroe Co-Op were the runners-up.
The winners of the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards were announced in Dublin on Tuesday with presentations to 13 top dairy farms made by hurling legend Henry Shefflin and Minister of State Tom Hayes, TD.
Overall winners, Kieran and Catherine O’Sullivan, were accompanied by 18-year-old son Cathal, who farms with them, and by Kieran’s parents, Donal and Mary O’Sullivan. They received a prize of €5,000 and the coveted NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards Perpetual Cup.
Kieran and Catherine are the fifth generation of their family to farm at Dunmanus, which is close to Mizen Head: ‘I inherited how my father used to do things, but am still learning every day,’ said Kieran. ‘Now I see how Cathal is learning the ropes and I’m very proud to be able to pass on this knowledge and expertise to my son.’
Chief executive of the National Dairy Council, Zoë Kavanagh, commented: ‘So many of our Irish dairy farms have been family farms for generations who have a deep pride in what they do. Skills and heritage are passed down from father to son or, increasingly, from mother to daughter also.’ Kevin Lane, chief executive of Ornua, said: ‘Today’s awards are a celebration of the best of Irish dairy farming. Nature affords Irish dairy farming the natural advantage of our grass-based systems. Irish farmers turn that advantage into the world’s best quality milk through their dedication to quality in everything they do.’
Professor Pat Wall from UCD spoke on behalf of the national judging panel, which also included Dr David Gleeson (Teagasc) and Dr Jack Kennedy (Irish Farmers Journal). He thanked the farmers and co-ops for participating in the national awards, adding: ‘The finalists and winners are fantastic role models for all dairy farmers and are great ambassadors for Ireland the Food Island.’
Tom Hayes, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, congratulated all of the finalists and said that he was delighted to see that all 13 are registered with the SDAS, the Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme.
Among the four farms which received national category awards was that of James Kingston, Maulnageragh, Clonakilty (representing Lisavaird Co-Op) for Best Milk Protein. National finalists presented with a commemorative plaque to acknowledge their excellence in dairy farming and achievement included Dan and Valerie Dennehy, Clonmoyle, Aghabullogue (representing Dairygold Co-Op) and Owen and Rosaleen O’Brien, Cashelbeg, Enniskeane (representing Bandon Co-Op).