Chairmen of Aubrac Society and their breeders hail from every corner of Ireland
THE five livestock breeders who have steered the spread of the Aubrac breed as chairmen of the Aubrac Breed Society in this country through the first 20 years have been geographically spread across the three provinces of southern Ireland.
The spread of leaders reflects the growth in the French breed in Ireland over the period from the initial imports mainly by farmers in counties Kildare and Cork, to the breeding of Aubrac on farm in 24 counties in Southern Ireland and five in Northern Ireland today.
The five chairmen — from the first, James O’Brien, Dromskehy, Clonbanin, Mallow who took up office on April 23, 1998 to the current holder of the office, James Donnellan, Dunmore, Co Galway, with Ernest Mackey, Wicklow, James Phelan, Abbeyleix, and Liam Walsh, Donegal who served inbetween — were honoured with commemorative presentations to mark the 20th anniversary of the first imports, in appreciation of the services they have given to the development of the breed in this country.
They have maintained their interest in the breed over the last two decades with some of them developing their herds into bloodlines to compare with any herd in Europe.
Consistently one of the most successful breeders among the former chairmen is Ernest Mackey.
Ballinclea Babette, bred by Ernest and Lionel Mackey, Donard, Co Wicklow, was awarded the coveted Royal Dublin Society Overall Suckler Cow, “Champion of Champions”, in 2015 with an index of €326.
The Ballinclea herd has bred Aubrac since 1999, over the years using bloodlines from the Batifold Herd in France, with progeny consistently in the top 20 for high indices in Ireland.
The sire, Calverstown Koala, bred by Kim and Mireille McCall in Kilcullen, Co Kildare, one of the original Irish importers of the breed, was a Gene Ireland bull in 2015 and purchased for the Co Wicklow herd the following year. He has gone on to breed five-star progeny with a rating of €163 and 3.3pc calving difficulty.
Liam Walsh, who runs a thriving victualler retailing business as well as breeding Aubrac in Co Donegal ( see panel, right) remains a very strong advocate of the breed and the beef they produce.
Current holder of the office, James Donnellan who runs the Cloonmore Herd at Dunmore, Co Galway describes himself as running one of the smaller Aubrac herds in a county which has the joint third highest number of herds, closely following the lead of Cork and Tipperary.