The sun shone unapologetically on the Virginia Showgrounds in Co Cavan for their 80th anniversary show last Wednesday, 23 August, on what was a very special day for many Holstein Friesian breeders around the country.

The event also marked a special anniversary for the partnership of Baileys, Diageo and Tirlán. Now in its 40th year, the event marks one of the longest sponsorship collaborations between the three named companies.

The 40th annual event saw an increase in prize money to a massive €13,000 with the winner of the Baileys overall dairy cow championship receiving a prize of €3,000.

Under blue skies, crowds gathered around the impeccable green field that lay as a platform for the Baileys heifers and cows that were competing.

Gary, Isabelle, Ted and Rory Jones pictured with Jones Knowelsmere Crushtime Patricia VG88, the Reserve Heifer in Milk Champion (left) and Jones Lambda Twizzle VG87, the Heifer in Milk Champion (right). \ Shanon Kinahan

The guessing game for who would be crowned the 2023 champion began as the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon, corporate relations director of Diageo Ireland, Shane Kelly, and chair of Tirlán, John Murphy, prepared to congratulate the champions that were about to be tapped out by Co Down judge, Mark Logan.

Heifers in milk

Firstly, it was the turn of the heifers in milk where 12 heifers battled it out to be crowned the 2023 champion.

Mark Logan of the Clandboyne Estate faced a difficult task as he searched along a pristine lineup before he tapped forward Gary and Isabelle Jones’ Jones Lambda Twizzle VG87 as the champion.

The January 2021-born heifer who travelled from Co Wexford to compete was sired by Farnear Delta Lambda and she was bred from Hallow Solomon Twizzle.

Andrea Rafferty leads out the Junior Cow Champion, Hallow Diamondbacks Twizzle 3 on behalf of Philip and Linda Jones of the Hallow Holstein Herd at the €13,000 Bailey’s All-Ireland Dairy Cow Championship 2023 sponsored by Diageo and Tirlán. /Shanon Kinahan

Standing in the reserve champion spot was the Jones/ Knowelsmere/Conroy team from Co Wexford with their heifer Jones Knowelsmere Crushtime Patricia VG88. Patricia is sired by Col DG Crustime ET and is out of Jones Knowelsmere HO Patricia VG88.

The title of honourable mention in their heifer in milk section was awarded to John Curtin and Roy and Heather Cromie from Co Limerick with their December 2020-born heifer, Dalevalley Maze Apple Red. Apple Red is sired by Cycle McGucci Jordy Red and is bred from SF- Shadylane DK Amazing Red VG88.

Junior cows

Next up, it was the turn of the junior cows where quality far outweighed quantity as five fabulous junior cows strutted their stuff around the ring.

It wasn’t long before Mark Logan found his champion in this section as he tapped forward Hallow Diamondback Twizzle 3 from the Hallow Holstein herd of Philip and Linda Jones.

While Philip, the owner of the cow stood as the brother of Gary who owned the heifer in milk champion, the two smashing females are sisters, bred just one year apart from the same dam, Hallow Solomon Twizzle EX91.

Mark Henry exhibiting Lumville M Danoise, the supreme champion, on behalf of Annaghmore Holsteins. \ Shanon Kinahan

The reserve championship title in this section was awarded to Hilltara Crushtime Maude 3 from the herd of Sam and John McCormick, Co Down. The October 2019-born cow is sired by Col DG Crushtime ET and is bred from Hilltara Atwood Maude 10 ET.

The honourable mention was awarded to Victor Jackson from Co Wicklow with his September 2019-born cow, Crossnacole Chief Eileen VG89. The young cow is sired by Stantons Chief and is bred from Crossnacole Abbadabbi Eileen.

Senior cows

On to the senior cows and it was the turn of 13 of the finest Holstein Friesian cows in the country to battle it out. Unlike the other sections, there was no senior champion crowned in this year’s competition. Mark Logan took the time to judge the senior cows before the heifers, junior cows and senior cows were combined for the Diageo Baileys and Tirlán overall championship.

Finally, Mark Logan had to make his last decision of the day as he narrowed the 30 faultless females down to just 10.

With the final 10 standing, Logan again narrowed his choice down to four where he found his champion, reserve champion and honourable mention.

Overall champion

The overall championship title for the 40th anniversary Baileys dairy cow championship sponsored by Tirlán and Diageo was won by the Annaghmore Holsteins Herd of C and J Richardson. Their April 2017-born cow, Lumville M Danoise is sired by Mountfield SSI DCY Mogul and is bred from Lumville E Danoise VG87. Danoise was bred by Richard Whelan from Co Westmeath and was purchased by the Annaghmore Holstein Herd at Richard’s dispersal sale.

The reserve supreme championship spot was scooped by Bryan and John O’Connor from Co Cork with Bawnmore Pepper Almeric VG88 who is sired by Delaberge Pepper and is out of Clongowes Sid Almeric 2 EX95.

Finally, Mark had to select his honourable mention and this time, he awarded the rosettes to Co Down breeders Sam and John McCormick with their February 2019-born cow, Hilltara Undenied Apple.