Hall of Fame winner Joe Kelly of Eyeries and his partner, Marie, pictured at the recent 2018 West Cork Farming Awards, run by ‘The Southern Star’ and the Celtic Ross Hotel. (Photo: George Maguire)

By Seamus O’Mahony

WE have seen in this very publication over the recent weeks, many awards duly credited to some of our many successful agri and food-related members of our community. 

To begin, I would like to acknowledge and take this opportunity of applauding The Southern Star, together with the Celtic Ross Hotel, on recognising many successful and forward-thinking members of our agri community.

They recognised them in terms of what they have achieved, be it as a young farmer to date, how they have specialised in one particular sector in which they partake at, such as dairy, drystock, or with a sustainability aspect, right up to acknowledging individuals for their contribution over their lifetime or in some special way to their communities and indeed agri sector with the Hall of Fame accolade. 

All of the nominees were indeed worthy contenders and give huge encouragement to many of their peers in rural Ireland and, in particular, in our own West Cork region. Rural life has changed significantly and it is only worthy that we take any opportunity to give credit to the efforts being made by so many individuals in a very challenging environment, where the adverse conditions thrown at us in 2018 will remain in our memories for many years to come. 

The degree of development, increased efficiency and intensity of production being applied by many in our agri sector is evident as we travel through West Cork, where farmers are deploying a range of skills, technology as well as partnering with supporting groups on the ground, to maximise their efficiency and produce what is, a quality output. 

Once again, we have seen in recent editions, coverage of national awards coming to West Cork for quality milk production, under various heading and representing West Cork on the national stage, collecting the accolades for their quality output. 

On reflection, there is indeed some correlation or overlap on some of these recipients, of the national awards where many have been recipients of the aforementioned awards presented by The Southern Star and Celtic Ross Hotel over the recent years.

In addition to this, we have seen this high-quality produce, in many of our local top hotels and restaurants in West Cork becoming a real part of their menu offering, setting them aside in terms of their uniqueness and standard of quality food. And we have seen not one, but two Michelin Star awards recently afforded to West Cork restaurants. I think at this point it is also important to mention the success of Carbery Group, now 50 years in existence, and having recently recognised this milestone with their suppliers by opening the doors of the processing plant in Ballineen to connect even further with them. This gave the suppliers a real sense of the progress and scale of the operation on the ground, sharing with the milk producers their successes to date and the plans into the future. 

Again, I would like to commend Carbery Group and their management team for their success to date. It is a very important entity to have located in our hinterland, providing top-quality produce for the global markets and, once again, putting West Cork on the map throughout the world with so many quality products produced.

In summary, I’ve taken the liberty of changing up this fortnightly column from the usual financial aspect, for this publication, to take a step back and acknowledge the importance of the agri community in West Cork and all over rural Ireland, and the strides that has been made over the years of hard work to the degrees of success of which is evident today. 

The Southern Star plays a vital role within this sector in terms of keeping us all informed of such success and, despite all the other forms of media today, it has and will continue to partner with the agri community in terms of affording us all with increased awareness of the developments and accolades into the future. 

No different to FDC Group, we all take positivity from working closely with these successful nominees and award recipients of our agri sector, and it’s important to stand back once in a while and acknowledge it.

• Seamus O’Mahony is a certified financial planner with the FDC Group.

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