Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys T.D. hands over the Virginia Milk Products Cup for the Diageo Baileys Champion All Ireland Cow at the 75th Virginia Show. The top prize of €2500 went to Hallow Advent Twizzle 3, from the Holstein herd owned by Philip and Linda Jones from Killowen, Gorey, Co. Wexford.


Taylo(u)r Coat of Arms (Marquis of Headfort)

With Cavan beating Fermanagh in the All-Ireland Championship qualifier and with the Virginia Show fast approaching in little over a month’s time, I found a suitable contribution today from blogger ‘Lord Belmont’ on the history of landowners the Marquesses of Headfort. It was originally published in July 2011 and is one of a series of such interesting articles on his website relating the story of the Big Houses of Ulster….
Virginia Park

The first of this family who went over to Ireland was:

THOMAS TAYLOUR, who being a close friend of the celebrated Sir William Petty, accompanied him thither, in 1653.

This Thomas was the son of John Taylour, of Battle, in Sussex, and grandson of Thomas Taylour, of Ringmere, in that parish, who died at Stoneham, in that county, in 1629, aged 70.

Thomas, the grandson, jointly undertook, and perfected, the Down Survey, although the maps were published in the name of Sir William Petty only.

In 1660, he sold his lands in England, and purchased others in County Meath; and, after the Restoration, was appointed a sub-commissioner of the court of Claims, 1664-66.

After some intermediate employments, he officiated as vice-treasurer at war, during the suspension of the Lord Ranelagh, in 1681, in which office he died of dropsy and jaundice in 1682, aged 51.

His only surviving son, THOMAS TAYLOUR was created a baronet in 1704 and appointed a member of the Privy Council in 1726.

His grandson, THOMAS, 3rd Baronet, born in 1724, was raised to the peerage as Baron Headfort, in 1760; and advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Headfort, in 1762. Lord Headfort was further advanced, in 1766, to the dignity of an earldom, as Earl of Bective, in 1766. His eldest son, THOMAS, 2nd Earl, KP, was created MARQUESS OF HEADFORT in return for his support in passing the Act of Union, in 1800.

His seat, Headfort House, in County Meath, was the only Adam house in Ireland. In 1901 the 4th Marquess, an eminent horticulturist, caused a sensation when he converted to Rome to marry a showgirl called Rosie Boote. A figure of great dignity, she remained the dominant personality in the family during young Michael’s youth and early adult life. Virginia, in the county of Cavan, was named after ELIZABETH I, “the Virgin Queen”. It owes its origin to the plantation of Ulster in 1609. The lands eventually passed into the possession of Lucas Plunkett, Earl of Bective, a Roman Catholic, who was later created Earl of Fingall.

It can also be said that Lucas Plunkett, along with his son Christopher, frustrated the plans of the Government to proceed with the development of the town and its incorporation during his tenure. He was sympathetic to the rebel Irish and sided with them against the planters during the 1641 Rebellion and the Williamite Wars of 1688-91, earning him the label of ‘traitor’.

Consequently it fell to Thomas, 1st Marquess of Headfort, and his successors, to fulfil the patent in relation to the development of the town in the second half of the 18th century and 19th century – the patent which was originally granted to Captain Ridgeway in 1612. Lord Headfort maintained a beautiful park beside Ramor Lough, where he had a hunting lodge (above) in plain, rambling, Picturesque cottage style; a two-storey house with a three-bay centre and single-storey, three-bay wings. The family often stayed here during the summer or autumn months, between 1750 and 1939.

The former hunting lodge is now a hotel, located on the shores of Lough Ramor. The Headforts also owned 12,851 acres in Westmorland and 7,544 acres in County Meath. (Blog: Lord Belmont)

Tom Doorley pointed out on twitter @tomdoorley that the current (7th) Marquis of Headfort, Thomas Michael Ronald Christopher (Taylour), Earl of Bective, born in 1959, is an estate agent in West London. Thanks also to Tom, there’s a bit of family history in an obituary in the Daily Telegraph for the 6th Marquis, who died in December 2005, aged 73. Tom also recommends a book by Lingard Goulding on The Story of Headfort School.

In a further development it was drawn to my attention by @ThisIsCavan that the Anglo-Celt newspaper in Cavan reports that the Park Hotel, recently on the market for €900,000 with its 28 bedrooms and nine-hole golf course in a 93 acre parkland setting beside Lough Ramor, had now been purchased by a leading London restaurateur in Mayfair, Richard Corrigan.


Launch of Bailey's Champion Cow 2013

Launch of Bailey’s Champion Cow 2013

Meet Caislean Oman Rose. Her owner standing alongside her is County Dublin dairy farmer John Murphy, from High Down Hill in Newcastle (wearing a check shirt). He comes originally from Kerry. John is a member of the Irish Holstein Friesian Association and milks a herd of forty. The milk which was once supplied to Premier Dairies in Rathfarnham (Dublin’s last remaining dairy until 1997) now goes to Glanbia (formerly Avonmore Waterford) and is taken by tanker to Ballitore in County Kildare for processing.

Four months ago some members of the Irish Farmers’ Association held a protest at the Ballitore plant over the price being paid to dairy farmers for their milk. I do not know whether John was among them. But the price paid to suppliers is just one of the problems a small farmer has to contend with, another being the weather and the resultant fodder shortage.

Caislean Oman Rose was brought in for a photocall at the Diageo plant at Nangor Road Clondalkin in Dublin to launch the Bailey’s Champion Cow competition 2013, which will be held at the Virginia Show in County Cavan on Wednesday 21st August, four days after the Tydavnet Show in North Monaghan. This is the thirtieth anniversary and a special cake was produced to mark the occasion.

30th Anniversary Cake

30th Anniversary Cake

Last year the top prizes went to Ridge­field Dundee Portea, owned by Pat & Derek Fraw­ley, from Croagh in County Limerick. At the presentation of prizes by the late Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State for Agriculture, the Glan­bia Chair­man Liam Her­lihy said “these top Irish cows are pro­duc­ing milk for Bai­leys which ends up all over the world, so this com­pe­ti­tion is an excel­lent show­case for our dairy produce.”

Champion Cow Trophy

Champion Cow Trophy

The first winners of the perpetual trophy in 1983 were the Crawford brothers from County Fermanagh. Farmers from Northern Ireland are still keen to compete at Virginia, but the restrictions on cross-border movements of cattle mean that they have to have passed TB and brucellosis tests thirty days before they are allowed into the Republic. The strict regulations are set out in the information about the Charleville Show in County Cork, which is on next weekend (29th/30th June).  This requirement however means that the Northerners might not be in a position to send their cattle southwards, if their own shows (Antrim Agricultural Show on July 27th was one example) take place around the same time as another show in the Republic, as the Vice Chair of Holstein NI Gaston Wallace pointed out.


Minister of State Tom Hayes TD at Diageo Baileys

Minister of State Tom Hayes TD at Diageo Baileys

It’s that time of year again when the agricultural community shows off its best livestock and produce. One of the best known shows in the country is held annually at Virginia in County Cavan, beside the shores of Lough Ramor. This year’s event will be on Wednesday 21st August, four days after the Tydavnet show in North Monaghan. The Virginia Show has like many others several competitions in the different classes. But there is one cup in particular which the dairy farmers are interested in, the Baileys Champion Cow, now in its 30th year. More about that on another occasion.

The launch of this year’s event was at the Diageo Bailey’s global production plant at Clondalkin in Dublin. Mr Hayes spoke at a lunch with representatives from the company, the show and members (including myself) of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists. The recently appointed Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture (with responsibility for Forestry, Horticulture, the Greyhound Industry and Food Safety) is from Golden in County Tipperary and is a beef farmer, so he has a good knowledge of the agri-food sector.

The Minister praised the wonderful work and commitment of the various show committees who give their services to the community every year on a voluntary basis.  The Minister said the past few months with the fodder shortage had been difficult for farmers. But he was hopeful that with the sun appearing, things would improve over the summer. He referred to the important negotiations due to be held in Brussels next week on the future of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. He said he would be joining his colleague the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney who will be chairing the talks. He said the Irish Presidency (which runs until the end of this month) had brought the negotiations a long way. He was hopeful they could bring the CAP talks through to a conclusion, but it was a difficult task because there are now 27 EU member states at the negotiating table. It was going to be a tough week, he said, but he was looking to see the finalisation of the process by Tuesday evening or Wednesday, or as was more likely to be the case, by early on Thursday morning as these discussions had a habit of going down to the wire.

Minister of State Tom Hates TD & Liam Lavelle, President GAJ

Minister of State Tom Hayes TD & Liam Lavelle, President GAJ

In a week which has seen a controversy over sponsorship of sports by the drinks industry, the Minister commended Diageo for what he said was a very good sponsorship of the Bailey’s Cow. Diageo’s head of Irish operations David Smith spoke about the company’s plans for the future and said they were still committed to Ireland. On Monday the company, which also owns Guinness, denied it would scale down its plants in Ireland if drink companies were banned from advertising at big sporting events. Mr Smith referred to the investment of nearly €160m in what he said would be the most advanced brewery in the world at St James’s Gate in Dublin. The new Guinness brewery is under construction giving employment to 900 workers and is due to be fully operational next year. He also pointed to their investment of €3m at its Smithwick’s visitor centre in Kilkenny, recently announced.