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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Irish Angus celebrates 50 years of breeding excellence

The Irish Angus Society is gearing up for golden jubilee events later this year

Kilkelly Ulick, bred in Co Mayo, and exported to the US in 1988, was bred by the sire, Highland Colossal which was in quarantine at Spike Island, after being imported from the United States. Photo: Courtesy of Irish Angus Society
Kilkelly Ulick, bred in Co Mayo, and exported to the US in 1988, was bred by the sire, Highland Colossal which was in quarantine at Spike Island, after being imported from the United States. Photo: Courtesy of Irish Angus Society

Martin Ryan

Half a century of Irish Angus will be commemorated with the presentation of special Jubilee Medals to winners in the Angus All Ireland Championships at Strokestown Agricultural Show on Saturday.

The Golden Jubilee celebrations also includes a social function at Carrick-on-Shannon on November 11, and will culminate for the year with the Angus Society Elite Show and Sale at the Showgrounds, Carrick-on-Shannon on December 9.

The medals to be awarded at Strokestown Show have been specially commissioned by the Irish Angus Cattle Society Ltd to be presented in the livestock classes and showmanship awards to coincide with one of the inaugural meetings of the first Council of the Society which met at the offices of the Department of Agriculture, 69 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin on August 9, 1967.

Then Minister of Agriculture, the late Charlie Haughey, had approved the setting up of the Irish Angus Herd Book for registrations and provided funding to cover the initial costs involved for the society.

Aidan Moloney, who will be honoured and tasked with judging at the show, has been breeding Angus on the family farm at Kildysert, Co Clare for more than 30 years.

Angus council member and former president, he described the inaugural meeting as "a very important milestone because we were breaking the link with the Aberdeen Angus and the registration up to that time of all Angus born on farms in this country with the Scottish Society by having our own herd book".

Aidan's late father, Paddy Moloney, who passed away in 2004, always retained a "fierce love for Angus cattle" and when his son showed an interest in becoming a breeder of pedigree he advised him to get Angus, advice which he has never regretted.

The first two calves were registered in the Irish Herd Book in 1967, although depleted records are not clear on some of the details of the early registrations.

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Minutes of the meeting at the Department offices in 1967 recorded Conor Carrigan, Rev N McGuinn, Patrick Benson, Michael Foley, Samuel Williams, and Barney Dunne, Secretary Department of Agriculture among the attendance.

Items discussed included approval for Irish registered bulls to enter the RDS bull sales, the possibility of allowing breeders in Northern Ireland to register animals with the society, and the status of animals based in quarantine at Spike Island following their importation from the United States.

Historical records indicate that the bulls in quarantine on the island included some of the great bloodlines of the breed, Highland Colossal and Black Eagle Challenger.

The records show that Conor Carrigan, of Lisronagh, Clonmel and his sister, Louise were among the early history makers for the society, having bred an Angus bull that sold for "well over £10,000" in 1968 for export to the United States.

The Department of Agriculture continued to financially support the administration of the society for more than 20 years.

During these years, the Irish Angus became a well established breed, with almost 2,700 registrations recorded in 1999 from the initial society base of 90 members.

Some of the men who spearheaded the progress in the earliest years still very active include JJ McKinny, Dromahair, Co Leitrim, and John O'Hara, Elphin, Co Roscommon.

Annual registrations, which have ebbed and flowed over the years, have been experiencing a boom in recent years with the highest ever recorded at 5,500 in 2016.

The Irish Angus has now achieved an all time dominance as the beef breed of choice by many in the dairy sector for cross breeding.

This standing has been boosted by the growth in demand for Angus cross beef which qualifies for a hugely beneficial price premium at slaughter, and has been largely cultivated by the Certified Irish Angus Beef Scheme and the Irish Angus Producer Group.


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