Farm Ireland

Friday 21 October 2016

Entries open for Equestrian Business of the Year Awards

Published 06/04/2016 | 02:30

Darragh O'Neill, who runs Abbeyfield Farm outside Clane with his brother Alan.
Darragh O'Neill, who runs Abbeyfield Farm outside Clane with his brother Alan.

Darragh O'Neill, winner of the Equestrian Business of the Year in 2015, is strongly encouraging people to nominate their established and fledgling equestrian businesses for the 2016 Zurich Farming Independent Farmer of the Year Awards.

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Together with his brother Alan, Mr O'Neill (pictured) runs Abbeyfield Farm outside Clane, Co Kildare. The 250-acre farm is home to a hugely successful livery yard, in addition to a cross-country course, and numerous other outdoor activities.

"After we won it last year we were able to promote our business so much more," he said. "This award is held in high esteem and within a few months we definitely saw a marked increase in business."

"I would strongly encourage people with an equestrian business to enter, or perhaps nominate someone else." The award is open to all areas of equestrianism.

In 2014 Darragh O'Neill's entry had finished a close second to Tipperary-based pinhooker Rory Maher, who last year continued his upward curve in the bloodstock industry with such stable graduates as Premier Currency, Still On Top and Arpinati.

Following his win at the time, he said: "A part of the entry process I found it a good exercise to go through the list and see what horses we'd had at the farm. The money (€2,500) will go towards doing some more work on the 17 acres I rent from my father."

In addition to the Equestrian Award, there are a wide range of categories available to enter including Beef, Sheep, Dairy, Tillage, Alternative Farm Enterprises and Rising Stars, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Grand Prix Award for the overall Farmer of the Year for 2016.

Last year's Lifetime Achievement Award went to Anna May McHugh for her dedicated service to the National Ploughing Association.

The Alternative Farm Enterprise category gives farmers involved in more niche enterprises such as vegetables, fruit, pigs, poultry, flowers, and organics, along with those engaged in forestry, an opportunity to show-case their achievements. The Rising Star section is aimed at recognising the huge pool of talent that is coming up through the ranks of Irish agriculture.

The closing date for entries is Sunday, April 17. Entry is free and details can be found on

Award winners will share a prize fund of €20,000 which will be presented at a glitzy ceremony in The Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin on Friday May 20.

The competition is run in conjunction with Zurich Insurance, and with categories sponsored by ICMSA, ICSA, Teagasc, Landrover and the Health and Safety Authority.

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