Ireland’s leading agricultural figures gathered in Croke Park on Monday for the launch of the book ‘From Farm Relief Services to FRS Network – The Journey over 40 Years’ and to honour outgoing FRS Network CEO Peter Byrne.

The book, which was written by Byrne, outlines the history of FRS Network from the time it was established under his management in 1980 to the present day.

It traces the growth of FRS and how it became a major social enterprise co-operative which employs 2,000 across Ireland with an annual turnover circa €100m.

The book also focuses on the many new and innovative services introduced to Ireland by FRS, such as hoof care, the first sheep and cow scanning services, freeze-branding, machinery rings and the waste farm plastic collection service.


It highlights the development of other services and partnership schemes to support farmers, including the creation of the Farmers Accident and Sickness Scheme (FASS), the Members Benefit Scheme (MBS) and GLAS.

The diversification of FRS into other areas is also traced, with the development of FRS Fencing, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch, Turas Nua and FRS business services.

The role of FRS in the community and across a range of different events is also featured.

All these topics and more were covered during the highlight of the event in Croke Park, an engaging question and answer session between Peter Byrne and MC Michael Miley.

Byrne spoke about his journey working with FRS and the pivotal role played by Macra na Feirme in formalising this vital service for farmers around the country.

Leaders of the agri sector; Sean Eustace, Séamus O’Brien, John Murphy, Peter Byrne and Peadar Murphy. \ FRS

The theme of co-operation and collaboration was echoed by director of Teagasc Gerry Boyle who said: “It strikes me as so important that agri organisations work together as long as we are all facing in the same direction.

“Teagasc worked with FRS on the milking skills course that had a significant impact on the reduction of somatic cell counts in Ireland,” he said.

“FRS delivered the GLAS programme on behalf of Teagasc and we wouldn’t have been able to take it on at the time without FRS.

“Herdwatch is a phenomenal achievement for FRS and the platform has the potential to integrate a number of IT services and is a purposeful innovation that is required in the market,” Boyle added.

Byrne closed with a direct point to the three final-year UCD students in the audience Neil Maher, Shauna Jager and Dathal Kent by saying: “I wish these young UCD final-year students the very best in their careers ahead and I hope they get the great start in their careers that I got in Macra.”

Incoming FRS network group CEO Colin Donnery is due to succeed Peter Byrne early next year.

The event was held in Croke Park in recognition of the close ties between the GAA and FRS, with FRS recruitment partnering with GAAGo to help reach the Irish diaspora all around the world and help them find work back home.

Among those who attended the event were director of Teagasc Gerry Boyle and director general of the Construction Industry Federation and former IFA president Tom Parlon, as well as representatives from Macra na Feirme, including former presidents and secretary generals, and most of the prominent farm organisations.

The book ‘From Farm Relief Services to FRS Network – The Journey over 40 Years’ is available as an E-book online on the FRS website.