Home News Farming Ministerial visit to one rural part of Laois highlights enterprising agricultural businesses

Ministerial visit to one rural part of Laois highlights enterprising agricultural businesses

Pippa Hackett Killeshin

A visit to the small rural area of Killeshin by Minister Pippa Hackett has been used to highlight what can be achieved by agricultural businesses who think local.

She recently met with Noel Barcoe in the Village Dairy, Ian McDonald in 12 Acres Brewery and Tommy Brennan in Clonmore Meats – all within metres of each other in Killeshin.

As she finished meetings with the milk processor, butcher and craft brewer, she said: “These are three fantastic enterprises which show what can be achieved when you are determined to work with your land, your customers and your local farmers.

“I want to highlight these businesses as inspirational.”

Noel Barcoe’s family processes milk from both conventional and organic dairy farmers and produces both types of milk and cream under the brand of ‘The Village Dairy’.

“Noel’s operation is really impressive,” she added. “And most important of all for those who supply to him, is that he has no problem finding customers for his milk and cream.

“As Minister with responsibility for organics, I would of course be happy to see him processing only organic milk, so I was very interested to hear that while he knows from customer feedback that market demand is there for such milk, he doesn’t yet have enough organic dairy farmers to enable him to process only organic milk”.

Minister Hackett also met with Tommy Brennan who runs an abattoir and butcher right across the road from the dairy.

Discovering that Tommy kills on average 100 cattle a week and about 250 lambs, she said: “The Clonmore Meats shop, full of fabulous locally sourced meat and other produce, was an incredible discovery.

“Small abattoirs are no longer common, but they should be.  As a farmer myself, I really see the value of being able to bring your cattle to a local abattoir, from an animal welfare perspective as well as from a convenience one, so I believe that we should encourage them again.”

Next door to the butcher meanwhile, Minister Hackett met with Ian McDonald of the 12 Acres Brewing Company.  Hearing about their operation she said:  “Brewing beer made with water from your own spring and malt from your own crop of barley brings a whole new meaning to the concept of growing your own.

“And the pride with which Ian described how he and his brother Paddy are honouring the family history through the story they tell with their labelling was a joy to behold.”

After her visit, Minister Hackett concluded: “There is so much room for imagination, diversity and ingenuity on Irish farms.

“As Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, I want to see more farmers reclaim their creativity and confidence and see farming as an art as well as a science, and I want to reassure those who are interested in doing so, and in working with, and in their communities, that this government will do all it can to support them.”

SEE ALSO – LaoisToday Podcast: Paddy McDonald on setting up Laois’s first craft brewery, ongoing challenges and his hopes for the future

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. Husband of Emily, father of William, Lillian and John, he's happiest when he's telling stories