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Joe Gilfillan: a Charolais champion and formidable buyer of quality cattle

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Joe Gilfillan

Joe Gilfillan

Joe Gilfillan

The north-west lost a leading farming figure last week with the passing of Joe Gilfillan of Kilmore, Carrick-on-Shannon.

Coming from a family tradition of beef farming and pedigree cattle breeding, Joe was an early entrant into Charolais breeding, buying his first pedigree heifer in 1974. He went on to build the Kilmore herd to a peak of 30 cows.

He played a huge role in the growth and development of Charolais cattle in Ireland.

Three times Joe was elected president of the Irish Charolais Society council. He was the long-time treasurer and travelled as far as Brazil and Canada representing Irish Charolais.

On numerous occasions he went to France selecting genetics on behalf of the society.

Among French breeders he became known as "Monsieur Joe".

He judged Charolais cattle in Ireland, North and South, and also at the Welsh national show.

As a breeder, two of his bulls, Kilmore Pirate and Kilmore Billy, were purchased for AI. His list of sales accomplishments included €10,200 for the senior male champion at the Society's National Tullamore show in 2003.

Joe's pedigree business came from a base of excellent beef farming at Kilmore.

Beef finisher

As a beef finisher he was always a formidable buyer of quality, high-meat-yield cattle. Indeed, it was this strength that first guided him towards the Charolais breed.

Joe's interest in breeding coupled with a loyalty to his community led to him playing a major role in the Midland and Western Livestock Improvement Society. Twice he was society president and spearheaded the society's purchase of the showgrounds in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Joe was noted for his integrity and straight dealing.

His passion for farming and cattle breeding was shared by his wife Mary, who grew up on a neighbouring farm.

Together they tended and promoted their cattle, sometimes staying up all night to deliver a live calf.

After spending a lifetime of near perfect health Joe was struck with a rare disease which led to a difficult hospital-bound last six months.

His funeral last week saw guards of honour mounted by Charolais breeders from all over Ireland. One of their finest had passed on.

JOHN SHIRLEY

Indo Farming