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Thursday 8 December 2016

Meet one of the first Texel breeders in Ireland

Published 24/11/2016 | 14:00

It was a venture into the unknown for Padraic Niland when the Texel breed arrived on his farm in south Galway more than half a century ago.

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The first 20, mostly female, Texels imported into the country from the Netherlands had been dispersed to the Department of Agriculture farms at Athenry and Raphoe after completing months of quarantine on Spike Island (Cork), which was the routine procedure for all livestock imports at the time.

Padraic's farm at Kinvara was not far from the Department's centre at Athenry and he became one of the first 15 farmers to purchase breeding stock from the second importation of the breed later the same year.

His purchase of four ewes and a ram cost him £550, but it was an investment which he has never been regretted, reaping a return many fold, and he has become the only original purchaser of the breed in the country to maintain Texel on his farm continuously to this day.

Padraic, who has a flock of 80 breeding ewes on his farm at Chessy, Kinvara has been honoured by the society for his loyalty to the breed, his guidance and his contribution to the progression and development of the Irish Texel Sheep society over the decades.

Four more of the original purchasers of the breed, Donal Mee, Roscommon, John Donohoe, Kilkenny, Michael Murray and Sean Brennan, Roscommon also received presentations.

Four of the original Texel flock owners - Lorraine Brennan, Michael Murray, John Donohoe and Donal Mee - were honoured at the recent Irish Texel Sheep Society 40th anniversary celebrations
Four of the original Texel flock owners - Lorraine Brennan, Michael Murray, John Donohoe and Donal Mee - were honoured at the recent Irish Texel Sheep Society 40th anniversary celebrations

Padraic's involvement with the breed outside the farm gate, included an immense contribution to the building of the Irish Texel Sheep Society of which he served as National Chairman between 1984-1986, one of the strongest period of growth in membership, when numbers increased from 60 breeders in 1980 to its peak at 350 by 1993.

The success of his own flock was equally impressive over the years.

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He is on record for having achieved a "rosette of some colour" from each day he spent in the showing ring at local and national Texel shows over a long period with some years of exceptional achievement.

He held the record for the highest price ram for a period of 20 years from 1979 for a champion ram lamb that realised 3,500 gns. In 2002, he swept the boards at Blessington, taking first and second rosettes in open ram lamb title, first and second LMI ram lamb titles, second prize hogget ram, overall champion, overall reserve champion and champion group of three.

Padraic Niland, pictured with his wife Margaret, received a presentation for being the longest-serving breeder of Texel sheep in the society
Padraic Niland, pictured with his wife Margaret, received a presentation for being the longest-serving breeder of Texel sheep in the society

The same year he showed the RDS supreme champion, the champion ram at the Athenry sale and the champion ram at Roscommon in a truly exceptional year for the flock.

In 2009, he showed the female champion, the reserve female champion and reserve male champion at the society premier show.

The All-Ireland champion female was sold for €10,000 to the United Kingdom. The ewe went on to breed the Royal Welsh champion and the Royal Highfield show champion.

His collection of awards at the annual premier sale, includes a total of six male champion titles, seven ­reserve male champions, three ­reserve female champions and two reserve female champions, and bred two RDS champions, three RDS reserve champions, three Tullamore champions, six All-Ireland champions, three reserve champions, two flock champion titles, and three reserve flock champion titles.

The trail of success for the flock is now being followed by his son, Gerard who has become actively involved in following his father's footsteps and was recipient of the overall champion title at the 2016 All-Ireland Texel show in Dundalk.

Indo Farming