YMA Hall of Fame 2013
John in his 84th year is still actively dairy farming with his son Richard. He is a keen show man, still showing and a great judge of stock.
While visiting with John and his wife May one was awestruck with the array of trophies on the side board with cups and trophies dating back to the early days of Ashford Show, Tinahely show, RDS, Slaney club and many more.
Wicklow hills, near Rathdrum. Cows were milked on the farm since the early 1920’s.
He introduced the first Friesians in 1950. They registered the Prefix “Cunniamstown” with the British Friesian Cattle Society, BFCS, the forerunner of HUK today. They purchased “Derrybawn Vista 6” from Sweetmans of Derrybawn. They purchased “Mayflower 55” from Booths in Ballymore Eustace and later on purchased the “Isette” family from Derrybawn and “Erin” from Karl Jones Henry, Ardtarmon herd in Sligo. They purchased the “Alma” at a dispersal sale of the Tara heard near Brittas. The Derrybawn herd was originally imported from England.
In 1961 they sold all the non pedigree cows and concentrated their efforts on breeding what became one of the foremost herds in Ireland. They were noted for their breeding stock and purchases from the herd became the foundation stock of other great herds.
John continues to farm with his son Richard. They milk 70 cows and rear all the followers. The herd average is 9570 Kgs Milk at 3.24 Fat % and 3.32% protein. Over half the herd is classified VG/EX.
The herd is noted for excellent breeding stock and those early families are still in big demand at farm sales which are held annually which must be close on 50 draft sales at this time. Heifers from these strong cow families always commanded top prices under the hammer of Johnston auctioneers.
Looking at a profile of the herd you can follow the progession from Friesian breeding to Holstein in the early seventies. Cunniamstown Queen 4 by Drake with 17 generations of breeding, Cunniamstown Shottle Ebony by Shottle with 15 generations, Cunniamstown Isette 670 by Comestar Lavingard with 10 generations are just a few examples of the depth of pedigree in the herd.
John is a strong supporter of the Slaney club and was involved in the establishment of the club in 1976. He had champion at the club sale in 1977 which sold to Sean Kehoe’s “Carrigmoss”herd, Co Wexford, for a record price of £2,000gns for its time. The herd has featured strongly down the years in competitions organised by the Slaney Club.
Cunniamstown Mayflower 3rd was the first cow to go Excellent in the herd. Mayflower 55 went on to be champion in Tinahely in the early sixties. He won the Synott cup in Ashford in 1961,1963,1964,1967.
John showed at the RDS as is seen here in a photo with the Ballyfree herd of OD Phillips.
In order to improve the herd John imported a herd sire from Robert Garland in England in 1954 Raddlehurst Duke sired by Terling Migrant and his dam by Raddlehurst Dorothy 2 RMX VG. Terling Migrant was sired by Terling Consent RM.
He also purchased Raddlehurst Chieftain in 1967. Raddlehurst Chieftan was sired by Terling Bullet and his dam by Salwick Carmen 20.
He then imported Farelton Wayward in the early eighties from Messrs G Robinson in Scotland. This bull was sired by the Holstein Bull A Hilltopper Warden, his dam was Farleton Unice RMX.
John continued to use the best of AI sires available in conjunction with these herd sires and imported semen from Crosswell Cardan 2nd RM and Ullswater Royal Sovereign from the UK along with the purchase of Embryos to further improve the herd. John, his brother Billy, George Webster and Victor Webb formed a syndicate and purchased a choice heifer born by Embryo transfer in the Cradenhill herd of George and Peter Kingston, Cork.This heifer was from the Ebony family in USA.
Success continued in the show ring and in 2011 he took the double at Tinahely show with Cunniamstown Silky Ebony ET(89 points second calver ) awarded Champion and Knocklusk Goldwyn Celia 10 EX Reserve Champion.