Two of the founding members of the Irish Aubrac Cattle Breed Society and the first importers of the Aubrac cattle breed into Ireland, Derry and Sean O’Driscoll of Skibbereen, Co. Cork, have been acknowledged for their work at a recent awards ceremony.

The brothers were acknowledged at the National Hall of Fame awards ceremony which took place in Athlone on Sunday night, May 1.

The National Hall of Fame Awards is an annual event that acknowledges individuals who have made a special contribution to excellence in the development of livestock breeding in Ireland focusing on bovine, equine and ovine breeding.

The O’Driscoll brothers were acknowledged for what was described as “outstanding service, dedication and commitment to the development of the Aubrac breed in Ireland”.

The awards were presented by the Minister for State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett.

Speaking after the event, James Donnellan, chairman of the Irish Aubrac Cattle Breed Society, said: “Derry and Sean’s constant attention to Aubrac breed characteristics in developing their own herds has made an invaluable contribution to building up a top-quality, consistent, base for the Aubrac breed in Ireland.

“Their awards are a fitting recognition of the immense contribution they have made to developing the Aubrac breed in Ireland, and supporting their fellow breeders and farmers who use Aubrac for their beef cross in dairy and beef herds.”

Aubrac beginnings in Ireland

The first five Aubrac calves born in Ireland were born on the farms of Derry and Sean O’Driscoll, in Skibbereen in 1992.

They had been imported from the UK as embryos. From this first batch of calves, Coolnagurrane Adam went on to the bull testing station in Tully and was the first Irish Aubrac bull available through AI.

Thornhill Alice was the foundation cow of Sean O’Driscoll’s herd.

Derry and Sean were founding members of the Irish Aubrac Society in 1998, and were on the Council for many years, taking up voluntary positions to help advance the breed and the society.

Over the intervening period, Sean and Derry’s passion for the Aubrac breed has not dulled. According to the society, they have demonstrated “huge commitment” to the breed.

With a small group of fellow breeders, they have been involved in showing the breed at the annual National Ploughing Championships and other livestock shows across the country, introducing interested farmers to the qualities of the breed, its docile nature, easy calving and high feed conversion.

Derry’s cow ‘Naomi’ was Champion of the Breed at the 2003 Tullamore Show.

Both Derry and Sean’s herds are built around animals imported from France. This has required many trips to French farms and livestock shows around the Auvergne region to bring the best bloodlines back to Ireland.