The Irish Belgian Blue Cattle Society returned to Ossory Show (Rathdowney) this weekend for its annual all-Ireland Belgian Blue finals.

It was feared after last week’s cancellations that the show might not be able to go ahead due to the adverse weather conditions. However, after trojan work by all the committee and many volunteers, the show went ahead a week later than originally planned.

The weather may have spooked some spectators for Sunday’s show. However, dedicated exhibitors travelled from near and far to support the show and to put on what I believe to be the biggest show of cattle I’ve seen so far this year.

The Belgian Blue finals were a highlight for many, with more Belgian Blues coming together to compete than anywhere else in the country.

There were five All-Ireland classes, the Ashbourne Meats Pedigree Belgian Blue all-Ireland breeding heifer, which was followed by four FBD Belgian Blue pedigree calf all-Ireland competitions.

The Ashbourne Meats pedigree Belgian Blue all-Ireland breeding heifer championships were won by George Hegarty from Co Longford with his November 2021-born heifer, Killashee Royal Pat ET.

Shay Haden with his all-Ireland heifer champion, Kilcombe Quina, at the 2023 Ossory Show. \ Shanon Kinahan

James McNally and Fergal Manning with James's all-Ireland champion bull Dunbeggan Quentin Et at the 2023 Ossory Show. \ Shanon Kinahan

Peter McCabe with his all-Ireland heifer calf champion, Ballentine Rihanna, at the 2023 Ossory Show. \ Shanon Kinahan

Pat is a daughter of Empire out of a Solway View Dynamite dam. The reserve champion all-Ireland breeding heifer was won by Thomas Doherty, Mullagh, Co Clare with his September 2022-born heifer, Doc’s Pathie, who was sired by Island Jack ET


Next up in the judging were the FBD all-Ireland calf classes which kicked off with the September- to December 2022-born heifer calf championship.

Dominating this section was Shay Hayden from Camolin, Co Wexford, who took home both the champion and reserve champion titles. The champion rosette was awarded to his September 2022-born heifer, Kilcombe Quinna ET.

Quinna is sired by Empire and out of an Or De Beaujeu dam. The reserve title went to his second September 2022-born heifer, Kilcombe Queen Lilly ET. Lilly is also sired by Empire out of an Or De Beaujeu dam.

Hot competition

The bulls in the same September- to December 2022-born category were met with hot competition and this time it was James McNally from Co Longford who triumphed by taking the champion and reserve champion titles.

Taking the top spot was his October 2022-born bull, Dunbeggan Quentin ET, a Tattoo son out of a Boherard Cantona dam. Standing beside him in reserve was his stablemate Dunbeggan Quill ET. Quill was also an October 2022-born bull but was sired by Moderato out of an Adajio dam.

Oran Hayden with the all Ireland bull calf champion, Kilcombe Unreal ET, at the 2023 Ossory Show. \ Shanon Kinahan

Aisling and Frank Burke pictured with Paul Cuddy from FBD insurance with the all-Ireland crossbred Belgian Blue champion at the 2023 Ossory Show. \ Shanon Kinahan

Back to the females it was the turn of the heifer calves born in 2023 where Peter McCabe took the top spot with his January 2023-born heifer, Ballentine Rihanna. Rihanna is sired by Tattoo.

The reserve championship title in this section was won by Myles McDermott from Co Carlow with his January 2023-born heifer, Rathlyon Rita ET who was sired by Ballyfin Borat.

The final class of the day saw the 2023 bull calves battle it out and it was Shay Hayden from Co Wexford who once again came out on top. The February 2023-born bull was sired by Bedgebury Kent and was out of an Or De Beaujeu dam.

The reserve championship title in this section was won by Jack O’Meara from Co Limerick with his January 2023-born bull, Jacks Rocky.

Pauline, Orla and Tommy Fitzgerald with their Belgian Blue calf that won the interbreed calf championship at the 2023 Ossory Show. \ Shanon Kinahan

Special addition

A special addition to the showing classes in the Belgian Blue ring at Rathdowney Show is the annual Sophie Pearson memorial young handlers class. Sophie – who was a diehard Belgian Blue breeder alongside her father Dave, mother Diane and brothers Scott and Ben – was a young star in the young handlers and cattle showing rings and put a smile on every judge’s face.

Dave Pearson, first prizewinner Katelyn Creed, second prizewinner Katie Lordan, third prizewinner Aoife Hannon and judge Sinead McDermott in the Sophie Pearson memorial young handlers at the 2023 Ossory Show. \ Shanon Kinahan

This year marked the 10th anniversary of Sophie’s passing, making it all the more special. The class was judged by Sinead McDermott who had a tough job judging the young girls in the ring. After making a tough call, Sinead tapped out Caitlin Creed from Co Cork as her first prizewinner in an emotional class and Caitlin was followed by her good friends Katie Lordan, also from Cork, and Aoife Hannon, from Co Limerick, in second and third place, respectively.