How these French cattle arrived in Ireland 20 years ago
It was the early 1990s when a number of breeders, mainly from the south of the country travelled to the homeland of the breed in France and subsequently imported the first embryos at a cost of around £800 each.
They were very ably assisted by Mireille McCall, a native of Dijon in the heart of the Burgundy region and now farming in Co Kildare, who used her local knowledge of France to make contact with the Union Aubrac directly and was put in touch with breed technician, Philippe Labarbarrie, who arranged for the Irish delegation to visit the herds.
The first Aubrac animals arrived in Ireland in the late 1990s and the Irish Aubrac Cattle Society council met for the first time at the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on April 23, 1998. James O’Brien of Dromskehy, Clonbanin, Mallow was elected the first chairman.
Skibbereen farmer Sean O’Driscoll, who is understood to have been the first to successfully breed Irish Aubrac from imported embryos, was among the founding ‘fathers’ of the breed in Ireland to be honoured for their foresight at the 20th Anniversary celebrations.
The other people who each received commemorative presentations were John Deane, West Cork; Kim McCall, Co Kildare; Finbarr O’Driscoll, Skibbereen (representing his brother Barry); James O’Brien, Mallow; and James Phelan, Abbeyleix.
Kim McCall was elected vice-chairman, and his wife, Mireille, secretary and Herd Book Registrar, a service which she delivered for the following 12 years, before the capable Angela Clancy of Deerpark Farm Service was appointed to the administrative role.
Speaking at the event, current chairman James Donnellan thanked the founders and the many others who have assisted with the development of the breed over the years and said that one of the targets is to “see more young people getting involved”.
He welcomed Mary Duggan, Eurogene AI, and said that they are interested in the extension of the AI service for the breed with 180 breeders now listed in this country.