Deputy President and Registrar Professor John O’Halloran with Maggie Egerton, daughter of Paddy O’Keeffe, the iconic figure in Irish farming at the announcement of the Paddy O’Keeffe Senior Lectureship in Plant Genetics at University College Cork, supported by The Agricultural Trust. Photo: Darragh Kane
The legacy of Irish agricultural legend, Paddy O’Keeffe, will continue to endure through a new Senior Lectureship at University College Cork supported by The Agricultural Trust. The Paddy O’Keeffe Senior Lectureship in Plant Genetics will lead the implementation of new strategies for grassland research at UCC, through the work of awardee Dr Rossana Henriques.
The generous philanthropic gift, led by The Agricultural Trust, was announced at a commemorative lunch for Paddy O’Keeffe, hosted on campus by UCC President Professor Patrick O’Shea and Deputy President and Registrar Professor John O’Halloran. Guests of Honour, Maggie Egerton, daughter of Paddy O’Keeffe and his granddaughter Sian Egerton were joined by Paddy’s long-time associate Edward Hallinan, as well as representatives from the Irish Farmers’ Association, the Irish Farmers Journal, Teagasc, The Agricultural Trust, Dairygold, Grassland Agro, Connolly’s Red Mills, Dawn Meats and DLF Seeds.
Speaking at the event, Prof Patrick O’Shea thanked The Agricultural Trust, and acknowledged how this donation will serve to establish a Senior Lectureship position in the area of Plant Science.
Prof John O’Halloran, Deputy President and Registrar, said: “UCC will benefit enormously from the generosity of The Agricultural Trust. This donation will equip the next generation with the knowledge and skills required to ensure the sustained success of Irish Grassland Research and Agriculture in face of environmental challenges, such as climate change.”
Matt Dempsey, Chairman of The Agricultural Trust, said that Paddy O’Keeffe had always looked to research and rigorous science to enhance the competitiveness of Irish agriculture. He saw grass and its utilisation as central to Irish farming’s progress and property. The opportunity of an excellently internationally qualified scientist in this field, to be based in UCC and working closely with Teagasc Moorepark, will serve to enhance Irish agricultural progress in the years to come. He paid tribute to UCC and Prof John O’Halloran for their unstinting support for the project.
Paddy O’Keeffe played a key role in the modernisation of farming and the growth of agri-business in Ireland, particularly through the insights he brought on agriculture to Irish farmers through the Irish Farmers Journal. He was a leading figure in promoting dairy research at Teagasc, Moorepark Fermoy and grassland research worldwide. In 1961, together with John Mooney, Paddy established The Agricultural Trust, which publishes the Irish Farmers Journal and The Irish Field. He continued to chair the Trust until his death in 2013.
Following the commemorative lunch, the Senior Lectureship awardee, Dr Henriques, presented her views on the New Challenges and Opportunities in Grassland Research. In line with Paddy’s unconventional views that revolutionised Irish agriculture, Dr Henriques will conduct new avenues of research in perennial ryegrass, focusing on understanding the genetics of plant growth and development under different environmental conditions.
Prof Astrid Wingler, Head of Plant Science at UCC, noted that Dr Henriques’ expertise underpins the strategy of Plant Science at UCC and enhances existing collaborations with Teagasc.
The UCC-Teagasc Strategic Alliance, was also recently boosted by the introduction of a new Bachelor in Agricultural Science degree to be run in collaboration with Teagasc Moorepark Fermoy. This new programme will include a significant component of Plant Science.