The Irish Limousin Cattle Society moved its early spring premier sale to Elphin Mart from the regular Roscrea location this year to entice more Northern Ireland buyers to the sale and it worked out well, with 22% (eight) of all bulls sold heading north.
A further six bulls headed to mainland Britain, meaning almost 38% of bulls sold were exported.
One of the bulls heading across the water is the sale leader Aughalion Prince ET, which sold for €14,000.
Bred by Patrick Clerkin, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, he was secured by well-known UK breeder Craig Ridley, who runs the famous Haltcliffe herd.
Sire of this sale topper is the 20,000gns Telfers Munster, a bull purchased by the Ardlea Elite and Trueman Limousin herds, having stood intermediate champion in Carlisle in 2018.
Dam of Prince, Whitehall Iris, is equally as impressive, having stood reserve female champion at the breed’s national show in Tullamore and bred a number of high priced progeny.
When four of her sons were presented for sale at the society premier in March 2019 by Ardlea Elite Limousins, they averaged just shy of €7,500.
These prices were led by a €9,500 call for Ardlea Nemo, which was also awarded the junior championship on the day.
Taking the second-top price of €7,200 was Milbrook Promoter from the herd of William Smith, Oldcastle, Co Meath.
William is no stranger to hitting the headlines, with the 250,000gns record-priced Limousin Wilodge Posh Spice sold earlier in the year coming from an embryo he sold from his famous cow Milbrook Ginger Spice.
Promoter is a son of Mereside Godolphin while the dam Milbrook Lepetal is a daughter of homebred Milbrook Itchyballs.
This 16-month-old bull carried five stars down the line and was the pick of Newry-based P & S Trainor.
Smith’s second exhibit, Milbrook Priority ET, also did him justice, selling for €5,000. This son of Lodge Hamlet is out of Sympa daughter Milbrook Ester, herself a prizewinner at Balmoral Show.
With five stars on the terminal index, this bull also heads north, this time with Richard Black, Strabane, Co Tyrone.
Thomas and Brendan O’Shea from Rathdowney, Co Laois, saw their top lot Templeqain Perry hit the market at €7,050.
This powerful May 2019-born bull caught a number of prospective buyers’ attention, which in turn led to an intense bid off, with Perry eventually tapped down to Peter McWilliams, Donaghmore, Co Tyrone.
Sired by Limousin World Congress male champion Derrygullinane Kingbull, he was out of a homebred dam by Loosebeare Fantastic, with Tatar B also in the back breeding.
Five bulls sold
Eddie Lynch of the Ernevalley herd, based in Loughduff, Co Cavan, sold a total of five bulls for an average price of €4,380.
Top of these five was Ernevalley Phenomenal ET, which hit the market at €6,400.
This 15-month-old bull was also sired by Derrygullinane Kingbull, while the dam is a cross of Wilodge Cerberus on the famous brood cow Drummin Cliona.
With five stars on the terminal index and a beef cow calving figure of 4.3%, he was the pick of Fred Sunderland, Aske, Co Wexford.
Next highest for Lynch was the €4,200 Ernevalley Pitchperfect ET. This December 2019-born bull is a son of Ampertaine Gigolo, while his mother is the proven cross of Wilodge Vantastic on one of the most famous cows in the UK, Bankdale Alice. Pitchperfect heads west with Martin Kavanagh, Kinvara, Co Galway.
Ernevalley Preston was next in line when he sold for €4,000. This son of Ampertaine Magnum is out of homebred Wilodge Drummer daughter, Ernevalley Jailbird ET.
This was another that headed north of the border, with successful bidder being Gordan Buchanon, Co Fermanagh.
The last two bulls from the Cavan breeder were Ernevalley Poshboy ET and Ervevalley Python ET, which sold for €3,700 and €3,600 respectively. These were sired by Ampertaine Majestic and the aforementioned Derrygullinane Kingbull.
Lynch was quick to reinvest when he secured Keltic Pader at €5,100. This bull was bred by Teleri Thomas, Longwood, Co Meath, and had homebred animals on both sides of the pedigree.
Sire was NCBC bull Keltic Handsome, while dam is the Cameos cow Keltic Lyre. Pader boasted five stars on the replacement index and had a beef cow calving figure of just 2.7%.
Just above this was Derra Perfect which hit the market at €5,200. Sired by Lodge Hamlet, this stylish bull’s pedigree also includes Ampertaine Elgin and Queenshead Altea.
This October 2019-born bull was bred by Gerry Shaughnessy from Gort, Co Galway, and was knocked down to Welsh buyer Owain Llyr, who secured three bulls on the day.
A further two bulls also traded at €5,100. First at the money was Big Red Persistence from Donal Byrne, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo.
Five stars on the replacement index, Persistence is a son of the proven French bull Bavardage, while the dam goes back to the previously mentioned Queenshead Altea.
This November 2019-born bull now heads to work in Co Donegal for purchaser Hugh John Patton, Ballyshannon.
Matching the price was Limerick breeder Noel Fennessy with Wood Road Prosper.
This double-five-star bull is homebred on both sides and carried a beef cow calving figure of 3.6%.
Sire line is the cross of Sympa and donor Claque, while the dam is the cross of Wilodge Vantastic and the well-known cow Nadia B.
Securing the 16-month-old bull was Sam Stuart, Magheramorne, Co Antrim.
Fennessy also secured a bid of €4,500 for his second exhibit, Wood Road Philip. This August 2019-born bull is sired by the previously mentioned and highly starred Bavardage.
Dam of the double-five-star bull is the homebred Wood Road Gerada, which is a daughter of Sympa and Nadia B. Securing Philip was Cavan-based Paddy Carolan.
Taking a price of €5,000 was Newtown Poker Boy ET from Stanley Richardson, Newtowngore, Co Leitrim.
This was another stylish son of Bavardage, with dam Newtown Emma, a Wilodge Vantastic cow that goes back to the renowned Castleview Rub.
Five stars on both the terminal and replacement indices, he was knocked down to Frank Garrett, Castlehill, Co Mayo.
Brought in from Scotland
Local breeder Michael Gunn sold the best of his entries Maybe Plantation at €4,700.
Originally brought in from Scotland at foot of his dam, Plantation is sired by Lowflan Lee.
With five stars on the terminal index and Cannon, Sympa and Cerberus in his lineage, he was the choice of John Craden, Ballina, Co Mayo.
Selling for €4,500 was Redbawn Phenomenal, which was bred and exhibited by Ian Kilgallon, Ballina, Co Mayo. This September 2019-born bull’s pedigree contains Grangeford Jojo, Virginia Andy and Ramses. He sold with five stars on both the terminal and replacement indices.
Local breeder Pat Bruen secured a bid of €4,500 for his bull Carrowreagh Patrice 2. This 17-month-old bull is sired by Plumtree Fantastic and is out of a homebred Ampertaine Gigolo daughter.
With five stars on the replacement index and all carcase traits, he was the choice of Sligo-based Brian Coleman.
Ronick Hawk was the sire behind Tipperary-based William Hogan’s bull Oldtown Price, which sold for €4,400.
This September 2019-born bull is homebred on the dam’s side, with Dauphin and Palmares featuring in the pedigree. Securing Price was Sean Doherty, Buncrana, Co Donegal.
Ryne Panter, a November 2019-born bull, was next in line when he hit the market at €4,000. Bred and exhibited by Mark Hagan, this son of On-Dit is out of a Whinfellpark Iago-bred dam. With five stars on the terminal index, he was the pick of John Carragher, Cootehill, Co Cavan.
Mart restrictions remain in place nationwide and while prospective buyers were allowed a viewing time ahead of the sale, no ringside bidding was allowed, with all biding done through the Irish Farmers Journal bidding platform Martbids.
In total, 37 of the 52 bulls on offer sold on the day, with the average price settling at an impressive €4,243.
This average is particularly strong given the mixed yard of bulls on show, partially down to no pre-sale inspections taking place.
In comparison to the 2020 March premier, this average is up a massive €849. However, that sale was one of the first sales held as COVID-19 restrictions began to set in, so the average price was much lower than expected.
Perhaps a fairer reflection is when compared with the 2019 sale, where the average is up €277. However, it must be noted that the 2019 sale saw 27 more bulls sold.
This year’s sale had a further 40 bulls catalogued than were present at the mart, with various reasons for drop outs.
While we are living in a different world since the initial COVID-19 lockdown last year, it will still be a worry to breeders that less than 100 bulls have traded in total from the last four society premier sales. This number is around half of what would be traded in a normal year from three sales.
Direction on how to increase these numbers will now come from the Irish Limousin Cattle Society’s newly appointed CEO Ronan Murphy.
While Ronan was not present on the day in Elphin, it’s understood that the official acceptance of an offer made by the society was concluded on the same day.
The appointment comes after a long search to replace well-known society secretary Paul Sykes, who stepped down in November having held the position for 12 years.
Murphy’s last major role was CEO with Horse Sport Ireland, a role which he stepped down from last September. He held the role with the national governing body of equestrian sport in Ireland for three years.
Previous to this, he spent time with Makeway Ltd, the Waterford-based agri-technology supply company. He was also CEO of Weatherbys Ireland for over two years and business manager with Hermitage pig genetics for 12 years. A horse breeder and competitor in both polo and show jumping disciplines, Murphy carries an honours degree in agriculture and a masters in equine reproductive physiology.
Speaking on the appointment, society president Trevor Masterson said: “Ronan brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role, having successfully developed animal breeding businesses in both the porcine and equine industries.
“The role of a cattle breed society is changing, the whole ecosystem we exist in is transforming. The societies that adapt to the changing needs will be the ones to grow and flourish. Our breed society has become a big business and must be ran as a business.”
Set to take up the role in mid-April, Ronan Murphy said: “It’s a privilege to be appointed as CEO at this exciting and strategically important time for the Limousin breed in Ireland.
“The Limousin breed has made a massive contribution to the profitability of Ireland’s suckler and beef production enterprises since its introduction in the 1970s and is the continental beef sire of choice for the growing Irish dairy industry.
“We will continue to build on these excellent foundations, to adapt to market requirements and to demonstrate and promote the versatility and genetic advantages of the Limousin breed.
“I am looking forward to working closely with the president, council, members and the team at the ILCS to deliver our strategic and innovation plans, and to ensure the continued success and development of the commercially important Limousin breed to the benefit of all stakeholders in the quality beef production industry in Ireland.”