Monday 16 July 2018

Sixth-generation Walsh farm scoops top dairy award 2017 for Tipperary

“Everything revolves around the best grass – it’s our fundamental”

A sixth-generation Tipperary dairy farm has come out on top as the overall national winner in this year’s hotly-contested NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards. 

Dairy is thriving in Ireland right now and there were also celebrations around the country as farms, assessed by an expert judging panel over the past 12 months, received national and category awards for the fantastic quality of their milk.

John and Maria Walsh, who farm 92 hectares and keep 104 cows at Ballylooby, Cahir and supply their milk to Dairygold Co-op, took home the top prize at the awards in the company of their three children Claire, Helena and Brendan.

Accepting the prize, John is keen to point out that it’s very much a family win. As with farms all over the country:  “You’re in your job – but you still have all your family beside you – it’s all one unit. You need the whole family”.

“The children bring new ideas – it makes me proud”

The family has a long legacy to celebrate and the tradition is very much alive on their farm where they consciously have a meeting on all farm-related matters whenever they can come together over dinner on Saturday evenings. 

Their knowledge sharing – and the sharing down through the generations on this land has paid off and they are now the 2017 barometer of excellence for dairy in the country. Speaking about his children, John points out “they bring out new ideas – that’s what makes me proud”

The Walshs want to use the spotlight that the award has put on them to really emphasise farm safety.  They are passionate about attention to detail and believe that farm safety has to come first and is paramount. 

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Congratulating the Walsh family and all the winners, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed stated:  “Irish farming is more than just a business; it is a way of life. Irish farmers learn their craft from their parents and grandparents before them. It is no accident that Irish dairy products are regarded as the best in the world. Irish farmers and their family’s commitment to delivering world class quality milk, day in day out, coupled with our grass based farming systems has enabled us to build successful markets for dairy products around the world”.

The farmers who were nominated for the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are representing milk pools of hundreds or sometimes even thousands of dairy farmers in their own co-ops.  The three judges included Professor Pat Wall from UCD, Dr. David Gleeson (Teagasc) and Dr. Jack Kennedy (Irish Farmers Journal. This year Irish chef Clodagh McKenna got involved as the Food Ambassador celebrating the delicious taste and quality of Irish dairy produce both at home and abroad.

On behalf of the judges, Dr. Gleeson explained that: “When we visit the short-listed farms every year as judges we see at first hand the genuine pride of Irish farmers and why they are made for this. Twenty-two farms were nominated and 14 were short listed for a farm visit. These farms were located in 9 different counties from west Cork to Donegal. Three of the key milk quality parameters assessed in the shortlisting process are TBC; SCC and protein percentage. The milk quality standards being achieved on these nominated farms are getting higher each year. What stands out is dedication to doing things right; a thirst for sharing knowledge and learning about ways to improve how things are done; and a heartfelt wish to carry on the tradition of the family farm, passing on the farm as good as, or better than it was before to the next generation.

Zoe Kavanagh, CEO of the NDC said “Our work in the NDC is really made possible because of the high quality of Irish milk and dairy produce available to consumers here, produced from top quality farms, off grassland”

Three farms received Excellence in Dairy Awards with Category Acknowledgement


1. Crowley Family, Bauravilla Upper, Skibbereen, Co. Cork

Best Percentage Solids

Nominated by: Drinagh Co-op


2. Gerard Doyle & Family, Curragh, Owning, Piltown, Co. Kilkenny


Nominated by: Glanbia Ingredients Ireland


3. John Walsh and family, Ballylomasna, Ballylooby, Cahir, Co. Tipperary


Nominated by: Dairygold Co-op


Five farms received National Category Awards:


1. All year-round Winner

David Boland, Horseleap, Moate, Co. Westmeath

Nominated by: Aurivo Co-op


2. Best New Entrant

Padraig, John & Gertrude Keane, Ballywilliam, Kilcormac, Birr, Co. Offaly

Nominated by: Glanbia Ingredients Ireland


3. Lowest TBC

John, Niall & Carol Mason, Ballinduganig, Ballyseedy, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Nominated by: Lee Strand Co-op Ltd.


4. Lowest SCC

Eamon McMahon, Knockaturley, Stranooden, Co. Monaghan

Nominated by: LacPatrick


5. Highest Milk Solids per Hectare

Robert & Shirley Shannon, Droumgarriffe,  Ballinascarthy, Clonakilty, Co. Cork

Nominated by: Lisavaird Co-op


6 National Finalist Awards

Patrick & Shauna Crotty, Loop Head, Kilbaha South, Kilrush, Co. Clare

Nominated by: Kerry Agribusiness


Declan Finn, The Lodge, Curraglass, Newtown, Charleville,  Co. Cork

Nominated by: Kerry Agribusiness


Sean Hegarty, Pairc na Glas, Killavarrig, Whites Cross, Co. Cork

Nominated by: Clóna Dairy Products


Sean Lynch, Glencrow, Moville, Co. Donegal

Nominated by: Aurivo


Norman Perrott, Grange, Timoleague, Bandon, Co. Cork

Nominated by: Barryroe Co-op


Nicky & Philip Thornton, Beechwood,  Dualla, Cashel, Co. Tipperary

Nominated by: Centenary Thurles Co-op


To read more about the awards and each of the finalists go to


Sponsored by: QMA

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