Meet one of the first Texel breeders in Ireland
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.
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.
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.