The building of the new Paddy O’Keeffe Innovation Centre got under way yesterday with an official sod-turning event at Teagasc’s Animal and Grassland, Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark.

Teagasc plan to invest up to €4m in a state-of-the-art facility, with 50 per cent of the funding will be provided through a capital grant from FBD Trust.

This new centre will incorporate modern teaching and study facilities that will be central to the delivery of the new dairy business degree from University College Dublin and Teagasc’s new Level 7 Diploma in Professional Dairy Farm Management.

he Centre will also provide much needed research facilities for the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Research and Knowledge Transfer post-graduate students. The facility will assist Teagasc in providing an integrated Teagasc Animal and Grassland, Research and Innovation programme, encompassing the activities at Moorepark, Grange, and Athenry, combined with the knowledge transfer specialist departments, to benefit the dairy, beef, sheep and pigs sectors.

The centre is named after the late Paddy O’Keeffe, a resolute supporter of Teagasc and what it represents. It reflects his massive contribution to the development of Irish agriculture.

Chairman of FBD said Michael Berkery said: “FBD Trust is delighted to co-finance this fantastic facility and in so doing recognise the extraordinary contribution of Paddy O‘Keeffe in his lifetime to FBD, to farming and to research. This facility will greatly assist Teagasc in its delivery of cutting-edge research combined with a strong education programme for the next generation of young farmers, two vital areas championed by Paddy in his lifetime. It will stand as a fitting tribute to him for generations to come.

Professor Gerry Boyle, director of Teagasc said: “As well as being used for teaching and training functions, the centre will also be available for the delivery of in-service training for Teagasc advisers, and as a venue for small scale scientific, or farmer meetings and conferences. I would like to acknowledge FBD’s support; without this generous support we simply would not have been able to undertake a project on this scale at a time of scarce public resources.”

Pictured at the turning of the sod for the Paddy O’Keeffe Innovation Centre in Teagasc Moorepark are Professor Gerry Boyle, Director Teagasc, Michael Berkery, Chairman FBD, Conor Gouldson, Secretary FBD Trust & Dr Noel Cawley, Teagasc Chairman. Photo O’Gorman Photography.