National Quality Milk Awards Prsented to Top Dairy Farmers

The country’s top prize for farming the best quality milk has been awarded to Kieran & Catherine O’Sullivan, from Dunmanus, Goleen, Co. Cork who supply their milk to Drinagh Co-op.

The winners of the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards were announced in Dublin, with presentations to 13 top dairy farms by hurling legend Henry Shefflin and Minister Tom Hayes T.D.   Runners up in the national awards are Denis, Siobhan, Barry and Jane O’Mahony from Shanakiel, Kilbrittain, Bandon, Co. Cork, who supply milk to Barryroe Co-op.

Overall winners Kieran and Catherine O’Sullivan, were accompanied by 18 year old son Cathal, who farms with them and by Kieran’s parents Donal and Mary O’Sullivan.  They received a prize of €5,000 and the coveted NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards perpetual cup.

Kieran and Catherine are the 5th generation of their family to farm at Dunmanus, which is close to Mizen Head.   “I inherited how my father used to do things but am still learning every day,” says Kieran.  “Now I see how Cathal is learning the ropes and I’m very proud to be able to pass on this knowledge and expertise to my son.”

 “So many of our Irish dairy farms have been family farms for generations who have a deep pride in what they do,” said Zoë Kavanagh, Chief Executive of the National Dairy Council.   “Skills and heritage are passed down from father to son or increasingly from mother to daughter also.”


“Through this award programme we see the passion for progressing and learning the newest and best way of doing things; combined with a heartfelt wish to take care of and improve on the farm, so that it can be passed on to next generation with care and pride,” said Ms. Kavanagh.

Kevin Lane, Chief Executive of Ornua said: “Today’s Awards are a celebration of the best of Irish dairy farming.  Nature affords Irish dairy farming the natural advantage of our grass based systems.   Irish farmers turn that advantage into the world’s best quality milk through their dedication to quality in everything they do.”

“At Ornua, we are very proud to sponsor these awards because these farmers are role models who raise the bar for everyone in the industry, encouraging all of us to work harder and do more.  They continue a proud tradition in Irish farming of sharing their knowledge in the hope that it will help the farming community. This, as much as the rain and the grass, is what makes Irish dairy farming world class,” said Mr. Lane.

Ten times All-Ireland hurling champion Henry Shefflin said that the consistently high standards achieved by the national finalists and winners reflected a tremendous commitment, a fine eye for attention to detail and a keen interest in looking at ways to improve and sustain what you’re doing.  “As a consumer of Irish milk and dairy produce, I’m happy to be able to enjoy these standards and I’m proud of those standards,” said Mr. Shefflin.

Professor Pat Wall from UCD spoke on behalf of the national judging panel, which included Dr. David Gleeson (Teagasc) and Dr. Jack Kennedy (Irish Farmers Journal).   He thanked the farmers and co-ops for participating in the national awards.


“The thirteen shortlisted dairy farms were put through an intensive scrutiny involving rigorous analysis of milk quality reports and technical data spanning a full 12 month period and including an inspection of their farms by the judges, which allowed us to get insights into the farm’s practices around areas such as milking routine, animal welfare and sustainability,” said Professor Wall.


“All of the finalists clearly recognised that they are producing milk for the consumer and their attention to detail is outstanding, with an emphasis on healthy cows, spotless facilities and hygienic practices,” said Professor Wall.  “The finalists and winners are fantastic role models for all dairy farmers and are great ambassadors for Ireland the Food Island.”

Tom Hayes T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, congratulated all of the finalists for the awards. “These awards acknowledge excellent standards in food production.    I am delighted to see that all 13 national finalists in the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are registered with the SDAS (the Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme).    Environment and sustainability are amongst the five priorities identified for the Irish dairy sector in the Food Wise 2025 strategy, and people recognised here today can serve as exemplars for dairy farmers wishing to develop and expand their business enterprises in the post quota era,” said the Minister.

Winners – 2015 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards

  • The overall national winners of the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards for 2015 (Best Milk Quality) are Kieran & Catherine O’Sullivan, Dunmanus, Goleen, Co. Cork.  They supply their milk to Drinagh Co-op.
  • Denis, Siobhan, Barry & Jane O’Mahony, Shanakiel, Kilbrittain, Bandon, Co. Cork (representing Barryroe Co-op) have won the Overall Runners Up prize (Best Milk Quality) in the 2015 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.

Four farms received National Category Awards:

  • John & Ann Fitzgerald, Gobbinstown House, New Ross, Co. Wexford (representing Glanbia Ingredients Ireland) won a National Category Award for Lowest TBC/Most Hygienic Milk.
  • John & Margaret Greene, Greenville, Callan, Co. Kilkenny (representing Callan Co-op) won a National Category Award for Lowest SCC/Best Udder Health
  • James Kingston, Maulnageragh, Clonakilty, Co. Cork (representing Lisavaird Co-op) won a National Category Award for Best Milk Protein
  • John & Colette Fox, Ballinacregg, Oranmore, Co. Galway (representing Arrabawn Co-op) won a National Category Award for Attention to Detail

National Finalists presented with a commemorative plaque to acknowledge their excellence in dairy farming and achievement were:

  • Dan & Valerie Dennehy, Clonmoyle, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork (representing Dairygold Co-op)
  • Gerard & Marie Killoran, Carrowloughlin, Bunninadden, Ballymote, Co. Sligo (representing Aurivo Co-op)
  • Florence & Caitriona McCarthy, Banna East, Ardfert, Co. Kerry (representing Lee Strand Co-op)
  • Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, Kilmurray, Feenagh, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick (representing Kerry Agribusiness)
  • Owen & Rosaleen O’Brien, Cashelbeg, Enniskeane, Co. Cork (representing Bandon Co-op)
  • Thomas & Marie Ryan, Kylemakill, Moyne, Thurles, Co. Tipperary (representing Centenary Thurles Co-op)
  • Ivor Smyth, Countenan, Poles, Co Cavan (representing Lakeland Dairies)

Meet the winners at

Thomas & Marie Ryan, Kylemakill, Moyne, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

Centenary Thurles Co-op – National Finalists, 2015 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards

Thomas and Marie Ryan have six grown up children – Michael, Patricia, Eamonn, Thomas, Maura and Matthew, saying they are all in this together: “we are a partnership in life and business.”

The Ryan family run an exceptionally clean farm with a well-bred herd of Friesian cows. They have the facilities necessary to produce top quality milk in a sustainable and environmentally friendly system, registered with the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme.

Cow numbers increased by 15 this year as the Ryan family can increase cow numbers using existing facilities by reducing their dry stock enterprise.

“I’ve always loved cows and milking.  We grew up with it,” says Thomas.  “Always milk the cows as if you are going to drink the milk yourself.   Milk quality is our top priority as we are conscious of the markets our milk is going to.”

“Our philosophy is to do the simple things right and to introduce new ideas as appropriate.”

Farm Fact File:

Farm 43.75 hectares, 43.75 hectares grazing

72 cows, average herd yield 5,752 litres

TBC 10.1

SCC 88.7

Butterfat  4.01%

Protein 3.46%

Lactose 4.78%

Thermadurics 216

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