Excellence in Irish Dairy, five Cork farms celebrated as National Quality Milk Awards 2017 winners announced

The Crowley Family pictured on the family farm Bauravilla Upper, Skibbereen Co. Cork. Pic: Clare Keogh

The country’s top prize for best quality milk has been awarded to John and Maria Walsh, from Co Tipperary who supply their milk to Dairygold Co-op.  The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards has been running since 1996 and celebrates excellence in Irish dairy farming.

Five Cork based farms also celebrated in the awards as follows:

Crowley Family, Bauravilla Upper, Skibbereen, Co. Cork

Best Percentage Solids

Nominated by: Drinagh Co-op



Robert & Shirley Shannon, Droumgarriffe, Ballinascarthy, Clonakilty, Co. Cork

Highest Milk Solids per Hectare

Nominated by: Lisavaird Co-op



Three of the six national finalists were also Cork based and they included:


Declan Finn, The Lodge, Curraglass, Newtown, Charleville, Co. Cork         

Nominated by: Kerry Agribusiness



Sean Hegarty, Pairc na Glas, Killavarrig, Whites Cross, Co. Cork      

Nominated by: Clóna Dairy Products



Norman Perrott, Grange, Timoleague, Bandon, Co. Cork    

Nominated by: Barryroe Co-op


The Shannon Family , Shannon Family Farm, Dromgarriff, Ballinascarthy, Clonakilty, Co. Cork.
Pic: Clare Keogh


The winners were announced in Dublin (4th October 2017) with presentations to 14 of Ireland’s top dairy farms by Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed. Winners John and Maria Walsh were accompanied by their family and received a prize of €5,000 and the coveted NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards perpetual cup.

Michael and his wife Marguerite Crowley from Skibbereen are 3rd generation farmers. They have five children; Brendan, Michelle, Aishling, Gavin and Colm who all play a huge role on the farm. They have one the Drinagh Milk Quality Award as well as the overall Carbery Milk Quality Award for 2015, they said, “Everything we do, we try to do it the very best way we can, so the next generation have an example of how it should be done. It isn’t all about money, farming is our passion and were glad to say that our whole family are involved on a daily basis and love it”

The farmers who are nominated for the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are representing milk pools of hundreds or sometimes even thousands of dairy farmers in their own co-ops. It is a serious short-listing process for the three judges, Professor Pat Wall from UCD, Dr. David Gleeson (Teagasc) and Dr. Jack Kennedy (Irish Farmers Journal. This year we have introduced Irish chef Clodagh McKenna as the Food Ambassador celebrating the delicious taste and quality of Irish dairy produce both at home and abroad.

Robert and Shirley Shannon of Clonakilty have four children; Diane, Claire, Stephen and Sarah. Attention to detail is always a priority for the them, their respect for the land and the environment is to the fore front of what they do. “We have a high production, healthy and fertile herd of cows producing a quality grass based product. Generations have farmed this land and so it’s important we leave it in good state for the next generation”

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said “Irish farming is more than just a business; it is a way of life. Irish farmers learn their craft from their parents and grandparents before them. It is no accident that Irish dairy products are regarded as the best in the world. Irish farmers and their family’s commitment to delivering world class quality milk, day in day out, coupled with our grass based farming systems has enabled us to build successful markets for dairy products around the world”.

Zoe Kavanagh, CEO of the NDC said “Our work in the NDC is really made possible because of the high quality of Irish milk and dairy produce available to consumers here, produced from top quality farms, off grassland”


Kevin Lane, Chief Executive of Ornua said “At Ornua, we are very proud to sponsor the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards which is going from strength to strength each year. It is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate Irish farmers who are role models and who raise the bar for everyone in the industry, encouraging all of us to work harder and do better. Irish farmers, and their families, unrivalled commitment to delivering world class quality milk, day in day out, has enabled us to build Kerrygold into the much-loved growing global brand that it is today.”


Dr David Gleeson from Teagasc spoke on behalf of the national judging panel and thanked the farmers and co-ops for participating in the national awards, he said


“When we visit the short-listed farms every year as judges we see at first hand the genuine pride of Irish farmers and why they are #madeforthis. Twenty-two farms were nominated and 14 were short listed for a farm visit. These farms were located in 9 different counties from west Cork to Donegal. Three of the key milk quality parameters assessed in the shortlisting process are TBC; SCC and protein percentage. The milk quality standards being achieved on these nominated farms are GETTING higher each year. What stands out is dedication to doing things right; a thirst for sharing knowledge and learning about ways to improve how things are done; and a heartfelt wish to carry on the tradition of the family farm, passing on the farm as good as, or better than it was before to the next generation.”