Leading figures from across the agri sector attended a special event recently, marking the industry launch of a new book about the history of Farm Relief Services (FRS) and honouring outgoing FRS Network CEO, Peter Byrne. 

Among those who attended the special event were representatives from:

  • Macra na Feirme;
  • Teagasc;
  • Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS);
  • AgriAware;
  • Embrace Farm;
  • FBD;
  • IFAC;
  • Devenish;
  • Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA);
  • Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM);
  • AIB;
  • Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP);
  • National Recruitment Federation (NRF) and Lantra;
  • University College Dublin (UCD);
  • Director general of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and former IFA president, Tom Parlon;
  • MC – Michael Miley as well as Peter Byrne and his recently named successor, Colin Donnery;

Peter Byrne is due to retire from his role as CEO of the network in early 2022.

Farm Relief Services – FRS

The book:From Farm Relief Services to FRS Network – The Journey over 40 Years’ sets out the history of the network, from the time it was established under the management of Peter Byrne in 1980, to the present day.

It traces the growth of the organisation and how it became a major social enterprise cooperative which employs 2,000 across Ireland with an annual turnover of about €100 million.

The book also focuses on the new and innovative services introduced to Ireland by FRS, such as hoof care, the first sheep and cow scanning services, freezebranding, machinery rings and the waste farm plastic collection service.

It highlights the development of other services and partnership schemes to support farmers, including the creation of the Farmers Accident and Sickness Scheme (FASS), the Members Benefit Scheme (MBS) and Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).

Peter Byrne, FRS Network, CEO; UCD students, Dathal Kent, Shauna Jager, and Neil Maher; Colin Donnery, incoming FRS Network, Group CEO


The diversification of the organisation into other areas is also traced in the book, with the development of: FRS Fencing; FRS Recruitment; FRS Training; Herdwatch; Turas Nua; and FRS Business Services. 

The role of the organisation in the community and across a range of different events is also featured.

All these topics were covered during the event at Croke Park, where a questions and answer session between Peter Byrne and MC, Michael Miley took place.

During the course of their discussion Peter talked about his journey working with the network and the pivotal role played by Macra na Feirme in formalising the service.

He also paid special thanks to the many other organisations who have worked closely with FRS, as well as the various dairy co-ops and others who were central in helping to establish and sustain the organisation over the years. 

New leader for FRS

Incoming CEO, Colin Donnery, who is due to succeed Peter Byrne early next year, also paid tribute to Peter’s immense contribution to the growth and development of the organisation.

The event was held at Croke Park in recognition of the close ties between the GAA and FRS, with FRS Recruitment partnering with GAAGo to help reach the Irish diaspora around the world and help them find work back home.