Busy times for Ballyclare group

Representatives from the three charities with Joyce McConnell, Agent in Ballyclare Office.
Representatives from the three charities with Joyce McConnell, Agent in Ballyclare Office.

The Ballyclare Group decided to organise a ‘Big Steak night barbecue’ in August for members of County Antrim Groups of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, following the success of the barbecue last year organised by the Larne Group.

The planning was started months in advance and credit must be given to Ian Kernohan and Rachel Cross who tirelessly pulled the whole thing together. Sean Irvine gave permission to use Ballymena Market for the night, which proved to be a fantastic venue for the occasion. Ritchie Remo and his band were a popular choice with revellers dancing into the wee small hours.

The barbecue and food was supplied by Tom McMaster of McMaster Meats, Whitehead. It was agreed that Tom and his staff provided a great meal for everyone.

Five hundred people attended the event and enjoyed what proved to be a fantastic night of eating, dancing and catching up with old friends.

The group wishes to thank its three main sponsors Chestnut Animal feeds, Ballymoney, RTU Newtownabbey and Norbrook, Newry. Thanks also to all the businesses, individuals and organisations who provided prizes for the raffle and auction.

The money raised was divided between three different charities: Headway, the Brain Injury Association, Rural Support for Northern Ireland and Macmillan Cancer Support. Cheques were recently presented to these charities.

In September the annual bus tour headed to Killarney for five days of visits and shopping. The bus left Ballyclare early on Sunday 29th September and headed south, the first stop was for coffee near Dublin before heading across country towards Limerick for lunch and then onto the Gleneagles Hotel in Killarney.

On day two of the trip the group visited Muckross House, gardens and farm, followed by a horse jaunting trip through the National Park at Ross Castle finishing with a boat trip through the lakes of Killarney. By this stage the travellers were ready for dinner and dancing back at the hotel.

Dingle and Slea Head were the destination on day three - truly a very beautiful part of Ireland, this was a day to relax and enjoy the scenery. The bus headed to Blarney Castle on day four while the afternoon was then spent exploring the historic city of Cork and of course a little bit of shopping.

All too quickly it was time to head back up the road on day five, with a stop off at Kildare for shopping and a three course meal in the Coachman Inn, Dublin.

Thanks go to Ian Kernohan for putting together such an enjoyable trip and to Margaret Reid for pointing everyone in the right direction and doing a head count on the bus.

The first meeting of the group’s winter programme was held on Tuesday, October 20, and was a joint meeting of the Larne, Crumlin and Ballyclare Groups. A farm walk was organised at the new dairy unit at Hollybank farm, by kind permission of Stephen Cargill. Members of the group were able to see the robotic milkers in action and the new heifer rearing unit, guided by Allan Hoy, Daniel Marshall and David Cargill.

Keith McKeeman, from Clare Vet Group, gave a presentation on fertility, nutrition and lameness in dairy cows to those on the walk. Richard McCartney, of McCartney Motors, brought some of his quad bikes and attachments to display. Those members attending were also treated to tea, coffee and bacon butties. Thanks to Joyce McConnell for doing the catering.

The next event on the calendar, also a joint meeting of the Larne, Crumlin and Ballyclare groups, is the Local suppliers roadshow to be held in Ballyclare golf club on Tuesday, December 8, at 8pm. On display will be goods from local suppliers offering a wide range of agri merchandise and services. Everyone is welcome to come along for a browse around.

The rest of the Ballyclare winter programme is as follows:

Thursday, December 17 - Members Christmas lunch 1pm, Five Corners Guest Inn. Contact the office to make a booking for lunch

Monday, January 11 - Ballyclare Golf Club, 8pm Information evening: details of the new agri environment schemes and Capital Investment grants, plus the Group’s AGM

Monday, January 18 – UFU President’s Area meeting. President Ian Marshall and the leadership team will outline the UFU’s activity on farm profitability and other major farming issues in the Tullyglass House Hotel

Monday, February 8 – joint meeting , Greenmount college 7.45pm. Improving land drainage and soil fertility. Speakers John Courtney and Graeme Campbell, DARD

Tuesday, March 8 – Ballyclare golf club 8pm. UFU and local YFC quiz night.

All members are very welcome to come along to these meetings. If you have any agri related queries or issues do not hesitate to contact the Ballyclare office.