Kicking off the 2024 show season, Ireland’s Spring all breed dairy cattle show, the Emerald Expo, returned on Saturday, April 27.

Now in its 12th year at The Virginia Show Centre in Co. Cavan, the programme of events included six Championships, classes for Young Members (YMA) handlers, other dairy breeds, young stock classes and in-milk classes.

Competitors travelled from far and wide to exhibit at Emerald Expo, from Clonakilty, Co. Cork to Castlefin, Co. Donegal, and everywhere in between, as well as members of Holstein Northern Ireland who competed again this year.

YMA Classes at Emerald Expo

The judge on the day, David Booth, from the Feizor Herd in Yorkshire in the UK was welcomed into the ring to start proceedings with the highly-competitive Young Members Association (YMA) handling classes.

The champion handler went to Will Jones from the Slaney Club with Rachel Corley in Reserve and Sarah Williamson taking Honourable Mention, both from the Breffni Oriel Club.

YMA participants on the day ranged in age from eight years old to 23-years-old, across three classes.

The three handling classes kick-started the annual YMA Showmanship League competition with qualifying points on offer towards the final.

Junior Championship

Calf classes were described as “strong throughout”, with the largest class of the day comprising of 10 entries in the Confined Youngstock class, This class was confined to members of the Breffni Oriel, North Eastern, West Midlands and Donegal Clubs.

Taking the top spot in the Junior Championship, sponsored by FBD, was January-born yearling Hallow Sidekick Twizzle from Philip Jones.  

Reserve went to the July 2023-born Ellys KD Rhapsody exhibited by Steve and Maria McLoughlin with Greenlea Kalo Oceane 1793, an in-calf heifer from Padraic Greenan taking Honourable Mention.

Coloured Breed Championship

The Junior Coloured Breed Champion was sponsored by TP O’ Reilly and was awarded to Rathard Choco Dream d Chalain (Jersey) exhibited by Peter and Paula Hynes from Co.Cork.

Judge David Booth commented: “Although entries forward for the coloured breed classes have been small, there has been quality throughout”.

The Coloured Breed Champion went to the Jersey Heifer in Milk, Rathard Kasey exhibited by  Peter and Paula Hynes with Euro Joel Prince in Reserve and Kingdom Barca Lisa, both from Daniel and Emer Curtin, Co.Kerry. This championship was sponsored by Cavan Co. Council.

YMA Stock Judging

The Heifer in Milk Class was evenly split by age into a Junior and Senior class.

The YMA Stockjudging competition centred around the Junior Heifer in Milk  with all YMA members invited to judge the class and summit their placings before Judge David Booth, lined up the class in his final placings.

Kindly sponsored by The Farm Wardrobe, the competition saw 20 members compete across three age groups.

  • First under-12: Cora Corridon (Kerry);
  • First 12-16: Adam Torrens (Northern Ireland);
  • First 17-26: Damien Burke (Limerick/Clare).

Once placings were finalised, members were invited to give their reasons to Reasons Judge, Emer Curtin from the Euro Herd, Co. Kerry.

Intermediate Championship

First and second places from both heifer in milk classes were invited into the ring once more for David Booth to judge the Intermediate Championship, sponsored by Tirlan.

Champion went to the first-placed Junior Heifer, Slatabogie Doral All Rich Red from A and L Paul with the first-placed Senior Heifer Lisnalty Balertwine from Paul Hannan in Reserve.

Honorable Mention went to Senior Heifer Desmond Chief Pledge, exhibited by Martin O’Sullivan.

Slatabogie Doral All Rich Red was later crowned Red and White Champion, a new prize for 2024, sponsored by Norbrook.

Best Group of Three Animals

With the ring at full capacity, six groups of three came forward to be judged. Judge Booth described the class as “a spectacle”.

Paul Hannan (Lisnalty Herd), from Crecora, Co. Limerick, won the Best Group of Three Females Owned by Exhibitor class, sponsored by Tirlan.  

The winning group from Lisnalty were shown by Paul’s children, Jane, Claire and Bill, a proud moment for Paul and wife Eileen.

A special award was given by David Booth for “cuteness factor” to the Paul brothers, Cody (9), Jamie (8) and Dylan (8) who expertly presented their three red and white calves in the group of three class.

Emerald Expo Lifetime Achievement

A presentation was made on behalf of the Emerald Expo committee to IHFA member, David Boyd, in recognition of his lifetime commitment to the Holstein breed and his early work in getting the ‘Spring Show’ off the ground.

David was show director of the very first Spring Show, which is now Emerald Expo.

His encouragement of YMA members, many successes with his Glaslough Herd as well as judging achievements both nationally and internationally were detailed in a touching speech made on behalf of the committee by Deirdre Toal.

David was presented with his ‘Favourite Photo’, a framed image of himself as master Judge at the 2013 European show in Fribourg, Switzerland tapping out his Supreme Champion “Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra”.

Emerald Expo Senior Championship

In front of a packed ringside, Judge David Booth welcomed all first and second-prize winners from the milking Holstein classes forward.

After a short parade, he selected his six to remain in the centre of the ring for his Senior Championship (Sponsored by FBD).

The final six included the following:

  • Slatabogie Doral All Rich Red, Intermediate Champion, A and L Paul;
  • Eedy Alchemy Barbie, First Senior three year old, Robert, Sylvia, Jason and Laura Helen;
  • Lisnalty Inka Ideal 609, First four year old, Paul Hannan;
  • Aliann Pepper Lila Z, First five year old, A&L Paul;
  • Evergreen Susie Mist 26 RC, Second five year old, Liam and Sandra Murphy;
  • Hallow Solomon Twizzle 3, First Mature Cow, Philip Jones.

The judge took to the microphone for the penultimate time to thank the Emerald Expo committee and the exhibitors.

He commented that “the quality in front of me has been outstanding and the animals are a rule credit to the breeders that have shown here today”.

With a simultaneous applause from the crowd, Judge David Booth tapped out Hallow Solomon Twizzle 3 as Champion.

In his comments, the judge commended her as “a great mature cow, everything you want in the modern-day breed”.

Tom Kelly was on hand to present exhibitor Philip Jones with the Seamus Kelly perpetual trophy, a memorial trophy reflecting excellence of Holstein Friesian breeding first presented at the North Eastern Spring Fair in 2006.

Hallow Solomon Twizzle 3 also walked away with Best Udder of the show (Sponsored by TP O’Reilly) and Exhibitor Bred Champion (Sponsored by IHFA).

Reserve Champion went to Lisnalty Inka Ideal 609 exhibited by Paul Hannan with Aliann Pepper Lila Z from A and L Paul in Honourable Mention.

Hallow Holsteins took home, Champion Handler, Junior Champion and Senior Champion to Gorey, Co. Wexford, a bumper haul for the Jones family.

Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor

Alan and Leanne Paul from Mahera, Northern Ireland won the Emerald Expo Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor awards.

Laurence Feeney, IHFA CEO thanked all exhibitors in attendance and he congratulated all involved in the show. He paid tribute to Show Director Richard Whelan and the Emerald Expo organising committee.

At the show finale Richard Whelan, show director, made individual presentations in thanks to Ann-Maree Manley, ring steward, Emcee, Deirdre Toal and to Mary Gaynor in recognition of their valuable work supporting the show.

FBD Insurance

FBD chair, Liam Herlihy, addressed the crowds during a brief break in the judging. In his comments he wished all exhibitors every success on the day, and praised those who had travelled from afar.

Liam said that continuing good relations and the fostering of a strong association with IHFA families is a strong ethos of FBD.

He also commended not only those in attendance but farmers nationwide on keeping positive during a tough spring, commenting that shows like Emerald Expo, are an essential to keep spirits high.

The Emerald Expo show director, Richard Whelan, thanked all sponsors involved for their support.

The title sponsor was FBD Insurance while the main sponsors were Tirlán, the Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA) and the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Richard welcomed all viewers watching the live streaming of the show, which was cast across the globe by Drumlin Media.

He thanked the cattle stewards and all those helping out on the day and also thanked the Emerald Expo organising committee and the Virginia Show Centre committee for the superb facility.