It was the biggest day of the Irish Charolais cattle society calendar as all roads led to Elphin for the annual Christmas Cracker sale. With exceptional trade throughout the country for commercial Charolais cattle and coming off the back of two very good pedigree sales in November, hopes were high that this year’s sale was going to be one of the best yet.

These hopes certainly came into fruition as one bull sold for €16,600, the highest price paid for a bull since the move of venue to Elphin a number of years ago. This will be the last Cracker with mart manager Gerry Connellan at the helm, and the record price proved a fitting farewell.

Securing the top price was the October 2019-born bull Lisnagree Peder from Westmeath breeder Jim Geoghegan. No stranger to success, Geoghegan came to the ring with high expectations and active bidders, both online and ringside, quickly brought the bull past his reserve. A son of the famous Pirate, his back breeding also includes Jupiter and Hermes. After back and forth bidding, auctioneer Tom Cox eventually dropped the hammer at €16,600 selling to Claire Ferris from Northern Ireland. No stranger to buying southern-bred stock, Ferris secured the top-priced lot and her full sister at last month’s Elite Charolais heifer sale in Tullamore.

Pirate was also the sire behind the second top price when GarracloonPhil ET sold for €9,600. This one was bred and exhibited by Aidan MacHale from Ballina with the dam's breeding including Domino and Doonally New. With five stars on the terminal index and on a number of traits down the line he was the choice of an undisclosed Northern buyer.

Highest terminal indexed bull

Just before this the highest terminal indexed bull catalogued Bostonia Prettyboy Et hit the market at €9,250. This September 2019-born bull is sired by Newhouse Bigal and out of the Doonally New cow Doon Benedetta, with a calving figure of just 4.5% he was secured by Kerry-based Flor McCarthy.

The Ryan family’s Goldstar herd was back in the headlines after an incredible day at the Elite heifer sale last month. Top of their offering at this sale was Goldstar Pianoman ET who sold for €8,750. Sired by Goldstar Echo, the September-born bull is an ET full brother to two high selling lots last month. Double four stars for terminal and replacement he was secured by Northern buyer Tony Harley.

Buyers were willing to wait for the right bull with the second last bull through the ring selling for €8,400.

Buyers were willing to wait for the right bull with the second last bull through the ring selling for €8,400. The bull was Liscally Pied Piper 4 ET bred by Jon Regan, Castlegal, Co Leitrim. This five star terminal bull is a direct son of Domino and out of the homebred Liscally Iris 1 ET. Securing the 13 month old bull was Dominic Brady.

Kilvilcorris Prince was the first of two bulls to hit the €7,000 mark. This June 2019-born bull was bred and exhibited by Matt Ryan from Thurles, Co Tipperary. Sired by one of NCBCs most popular bulls for commercial cattle, Fiston, he is out of a homebred Enfield Plexus dam. This one heads to Wales with Owain Llry. Matt Ryan also sold another Fiston son, Kilvilcorris Pete, at €5,200, with Llry also the successful bidder.

Matching the €7,000 price tag was Carrowquill Pirate from Dermot Foley, Co Roscommon. This son of Doonally New or the more common name CF52, is out of a Gerard-bred cow. Five stars on the terminal index he was knocked down to Alan Roberts.

Northern-bound bull

Just behind this, taking home a cheque for €6,900 was Peter McLoughlin for his bull Aquanchoua Pinto ET. This July 2019-born bull is another son of Doonally New with Mogador and Meillard also in the back breeding. Another northern-bound bull he was secured by Michael McNally. A twin to a bull, his brother sold just before him and hit the market at €6,100. This one also heads north, this time with James O’Kane.

A trio of bulls sold for €6,750. Two of these three bulls came from the herd of Pat McClean, Lifford, Co Donegal. First at the money was Roughan Picasso, a June 2019 born son of Roughan Gibraltar who ranked five stars on both the terminal and replacement index. With a calving figure of 5.7% he was the choice of Kevin Loftus. Pat's second bull was Roughan Pete. Born the same day and by the same sire, this one heads to Kerry with Dan O’Sullivan. The last Roughan bull to sell was Roughan Peader who was knocked down to John O’Dea at €6,250. This bull was again sired by the aforementioned Roughan Gibraltar.

A trio of bulls sold for €6,750.

The last bull to hit the €6,750 mark was another from the aforementioned Matt Ryan with KIlvilcorris Phoenix. This son of Bunratty Mike Tyson, is out of Sesame-bred dam. Four stars on both the terminal and replacement indexes the May 2019 bull was secured by William Allen.

Two bulls traded at €6,500 with the first coming from Olivia Purcell with her bull Bud Purcell. Born May 2019, this five-star terminal bull’s pedigree contains Domino, Pirate and Texan-Gie. Another bull heading north, successful buyer was Sandra Hunter.

Matching the price tag was McDermott’s Perfection from Donegal-based Kevin McDermott. This Goldstar Echo son is out of a Bova Sylvain bred dam with Repair also in the lineage. Top bidder here was Mary Gilbride.

Another of the last few bulls in the ring to make money was the 13-month-old Cloonglasna11 Padraig who sold for €6,300. Bred by Mayo-based Padraig Egan, the five-star Major son was knocked down to Northern based S and D Bothwell.

Michael and Barry Quinn from Newmarket-on-Fergus sold their top lot, Clenagh Premier, for €6,000. This Clenagh Hawk son is out of a full sister to the €13,000 Clenagh Lyle. Malachy Hearty held off stiff bidding to secure the July 2019-born bull.


While the clearance rate dropped by 18% to settle at just shy of 70%, a total of 74 bulls sold, an increase of two on the year. The reason for the drop in clearance rate was due to the inclusion of an extra 20 bulls in the sale compared with 2019, which the demand just wasn’t there for. This however could be different on a normal year when a show and all ringside bidding would be allowed.

Trade actually proved very strong with a total of 29 bulls selling for €5,000 or more. This number is up by nine on the same sale last year. Overall, this helped increase average by nearly €450 on the year to settle at €4,717, the highest seen since 2015.

Great credit must go to the Irish Charolais cattle society who are constantly trying to improve the sale with new initiatives.

Over the last number of years the society have offered free transport to Northern Ireland and the UK. Demand in this market continues to grow for Charolais breeders, and in Saturday's sale over 30% of bulls were exported with a total of 24 going for export.

This year with less money spent by the society due to COVID-19, the council decided to put the extra money to good use and reward the buyers. The meant that the first 20 buyers of bulls which made in excess of €4,500 would be given €400 back. This helped increase the number of high prices achieved early on the sale in what usually would be a more difficult sale period and in turn gave an air of confidence to both buyers and sellers.

Success doesn’t just happen it is planned for and this is very much the case for the Charolais Christmas Cracker.

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