Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

Cereals farmer ploughs to the top of his game

Kevin Nolan, left, receives his prize from John O’Connor of Zurich Insurance
Kevin Nolan, left, receives his prize from John O’Connor of Zurich Insurance
Denis Brosnan

Darrach McCullough

A 35-YEAR-OLD tillage farmer from Carlow has been hailed as the best farmer in Ireland following his win in the inaugural Zurich Farming Independent Farmer of the Year competition at a ceremony in Dublin on Friday night.

Kevin Nolan, who farms more than 1,000 acres of cereals on mostly leased land in and around the parish of Bennekerry just outside Carlow town, beat entrants from all over the country to scoop €7,500 in cash and prizes.

More than 250 finalists and industry representatives attended the awards, which also saw a lifetime achievement award being presented to Kerry native Denis Brosnan for his formative role in the establishment of Ireland's largest food company, Kerry Group.

He told the packed banquet that he was "humbled and honoured" to be receiving the award 10 years on from his retirement from the €8bn company that he helped create.

"I loved working with farmers, and it was a wonderful industry to be part of, where everybody is salt of the earth," he said.

He also paid tribute to the other eight award winners on the night.

"Kerry's success is built on all its effort being put behind what they are good at. It's obvious that the eight category winners here tonight know what they are good at and are focused on pursuing that."

Other winners on the night included: David Moore, from Stamullen in Co Meath (dairy); David and Paula Johnson from Redcross, Wicklow (beef); Gordon and Yvonne Johnston from Tyrellspass, Westmeath (sheep); Rory Maher from Templemore, Tipperary (equestrian); Ronan Byrne from Athenry, Galway (rising star); Thomas Moloney from Cahir, Tipperary (contractor); and Joe and Paul Finnegan from Navan, Co Meath (alternative).

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The eight category winners shared a prize fund of €20,000.

"The awards recognise the best farmers throughout the country for their commitment to the industry and its continued prosperity," said chief financial officer and acting CEO of Zurich Insurance John O'Connor.

Commenting on the event the Irish Independent Farming editor Declan O'Brien said he was overwhelmed by the level of interest that the competition generated within the farming community.

"We're delighted to be able to be part of the only farming awards that give every farmer in the country, regardless of their enterprise, a chance to get the recognition that they deserve for the countless hours of work they put into providing our food," he added.

Other key sponsors at the awards included the ICMSA, Teagasc, Land Rover and the Agricultural Consultants Association.

Sunday Independent