Tirlán Quality Grain Supplier of the Year Award for 2022

Tirlán Quality Grain Award Winners

14 February 2023
General News

Kilkenny-based Green Feed Wheat grower Thomas Butler and his wife, Annabel, have claimed the coveted Tirlán Quality Grain Supplier of the Year Award for 2022, amid strong competition from across the country following a record harvest.

From feed beans to food grade oats, the annual Quality Grain Awards programme recognises the excellence of the top-class Irish crops delivered by Tirlán’s 1,100 growers each year.

The grower, from Bennettsbridge in Kilkenny, was amongst 13 top quality suppliers honoured for their dedication and attention to detail in grain production. Thomas and Annabel run the family farm near scenic Bennettsbridge. It comprises of 250 acres of tillage along with grassland and woodland.

Tirlán Chairman, John Murphy, said choosing an overall winner from among the 13 high calibre entrants was extremely difficult in a harvest year that was blessed with great weather, exceptional quality and high yields.

“The excellence of our suppliers is something we in Tirlán never take for granted. Generations of commitment, knowledge and expertise are what set us apart from growers all over the world. We’re passionate about what we do and it shows in the high-quality produce that comes from our family farms.

“Our standard-setting growers are the cream of the crop. We commend them on the exceptionally high standards they have set and for their continued dedication to quality, best practice and sustainability and their commitment to the sector.

“In Harvest 2022, we took in our highest ever volume of premium grains and delivered an additional €3 million in bonus payments to growers of these premium crops. We remain firmly focused on adding value to our premium grains portfolio through our investment in innovation,” said John Murphy.

Aoife Murphy, Director of Ingredients at Tirlán, said: “There has been a significant investment in cutting edge technology in our Innovation Centre, our team of Commercial, R&D, market insights and nutrition specialists, who work with our product management and marketing divisions to continuously develop our plant-based offering.

“Our high-quality Oat-based ingredients can now be found in a wide variety of food applications such as bars and snacks as well as plant-based alternatives; including drinks, ice cream and chocolate.

“We’re continuing to expand our portfolio, build our expertise and evolve our offerings for the future in line with growing market trends. Key markets include North America, Europe and Asia.”

John Kealy, Head of Grains at Tirlán, said: “We doubled our grain volumes in 2022 through our high-spec Oats Mill in Portlaoise. We have ambitions to continue to develop our milling capacity and extend our capability to take advantage of emerging market opportunities.”

As the largest buyer and user of premium Irish grains, Tirlán paid out circa €100 million to grain growers for Harvest 2022 with a grain intake of over 300,000 tonnes.

Stand-out winner

There is a strong focus on soil fertility and rotations on the 2022 Quality Grain Award-winning Butler family farm, which is located in Co Kilkenny. Thomas and Annabel run a diversified farming operation near Bennettsbridge which is comprised of tillage, grassland and woodlands.

In addition to operating a varied rotation of crops, they also have a keen interest in heritage wheat varieties. It is the wide range of break crops grown on the farm that helped them deliver the perfect conditions for a bumper crop of Green Feed Wheat. The winning crop averaged a specific weight of 80.8 kph and 11.0% protein at a moisture of 14.1% across 310 tonnes.


The 2022 winners are:




Winter (Cassia) Feed Barley

Thomas Mahon

Monasterevin, Co Kildare

Malting Barley

Robert & Paul Young

The Heath, Co Laois

Green Feed Barley

Peter Marley

Martry, Kells, Co Meath

Premium Spring Barley

James Hill

Dunganstown Castle, Dunganstown, Co Wicklow

Dried Feed Barley

Kiltaghan Farm

Rathangan, Co Kildare

Seed Barley

Patrick Miller

Athy, Co Kildare

Green Feed Wheat

Thomas Butler

Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny

Dried Feed Wheat

Newtownadam Farm

Cahir, Co Tipperary

Seed Wheat

Mark Onions

Portlaoise, Co Laois

Food Grade Oats

James Ashmore

Ballytore, Co Kildare

Green Feed Oats

James French

Loughgerald, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

Green Feed Beans

Gormanlough Farms

Slane, Co Meath

Green Oilseed Rape

Edward Mulhall

Emo, Co Laois





Tom Mahon, Grange, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare.

Tom Mahon farms a mixed tillage and sheep farm with his son Padraig at Mooreabbey, just outside Monasterevin in Co. Kildare. They farm approximately 300 acres which comprises of 180 acres of owned land with the remainder leased. The main crops grown on the farm are winter barley, winter wheat, spring barley, oilseed rape and fodder beet. They also grow forage cover crops which are grazed by sheep. The farm carries over 500 ewes and all lambs produced are finished on the farm.

The winning crop had an average specific weight of 71.0kph, 0.5% screenings and 10.7% protein at a moisture of 14.2% across 169 tonnes.  Their Tirlán agronomist is Sean Boland.



Robert & Paul Young, The Heath, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

Paul Young farms a mixed tillage and sheep farm with his parents, Robert and Catherine, at The Heath near Portlaoise in Co. Laois. The Youngs grow both winter and spring crops using a plough-based system of crop establishment. The farm operates a diverse rotation which includes fodder beet, spring beans and oilseed rape as break crops. The main cereals grown are spring malting barley, winter barley (for seed) and gluten free oats. The sheep enterprise is comprised of both early and mid-season lambing flocks. Catch crops and beet tops are grazed by the sheep over winter.

The winning crop of Laureate malting barley averaged a specific weight of 70.4kph, 1.9% screenings and 10.1% protein at a moisture of 13.4% across 128 tonnes.

The Young’s Tirlán agronomist is Tim Scott.



James Hill, Dunganstown, Co. Wicklow.

James Hill and his wife Anne run a mixed tillage and sheep farm on a combination of owned and rented land at Dunganstown in east Wicklow. The 300 acres is given over to wheat, barley and oats and a combination of root crops such as swedes and turnips. James runs a flock of 500 ewes which lamb in spring. The root crops which are grown mainly for the sheep flock provide an ideal break crop for winter wheat. James is a well-known member of the Irish Farmers’ Association and has served on their national grain committee for a long number of years.

The winning crop averaged a specific weight of 72.6 kph with screenings of 1.6% and protein of 10.3% at a moisture of 12.5% across a total of 385 tonnes.

This is a new award for 2022 and reflects Tirlán’s increasing assembly of premium grains for customers in the brewing and distilling industry.

James’ Tirlán agronomist is Tom Hession.



James Ashmore, Ballytore, Co. Kildare.

James Ashmore runs a mixed farm at Mullaghmast, near Ballytore in south Kildare. Most of the land is owned with a small portion rented. Tillage is the main enterprise but he also practices winter finishing of both lambs and beef cattle. The main crops grown on the farm are winter wheat, winter barley, gluten free oats, spring barley, food grade peas and feed beans. At this stage, most crops are direct drilled and use of the plough is minimised. Cover crops are grown on the farm to be grazed by the finishing lambs. The main soil on the farm is a clay loam which provides a solid base for excellent crops. Although James runs the farm on a day-to-day basis, his father Don, is still very actively involved in operations.

The winning crop had an average specific weight of 61.3 kph at 15.0% moisture across 85 tonnes and incidentally was a crop of gluten free oats. James’ Tirlán agronomist is Seán Boland.



Peter Marley, Kells, Co. Meath.

Peter and Ann Marley farm at Martry near Kells in Co. Meath. A full-time civil servant, Peter’s tillage operation consists of a combination of winter and spring barley. All crops are sown used a plough-based system. A proportion of Peter’s farm is dedicated to grassland from which he produces hay each year and this is sold to local farmers.

The winning crop averaged a specific weight of 70.4kph, screenings of 1.3% and protein of 10.% at a moisture content of 14.1% across a tonnage of 106 tonnes. Peter’s Tirlán agronomist is Conor Hoey.



James French, Loughgerald, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

James farms approximately 160 acres of owned and rented ground at Loughgerald near Enniscorthy in Co. Wexford. His cropping regime in 2022 was winter barley, both autumn and spring-sown feed oats and spring malting barley. James also operates a machinery repair and restoration business. He is married to Lynn and they have two children.

James’s brother Patrick and their father, William, are also involved in grain production and while they run their businesses independently, they collaborate throughout the year in terms of field work and machinery operation. 

James was represented at the awards by his father and mother, William and Essie French.

The award-winning crop averaged a specific weight of 57.2kph at 16.5% moisture across a total production of over 89 tonnes. The French’s Tirlán agronomist is Ed Prendergast.



Mark Onions, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

Mark Onions operates a mixed tillage and suckler beef farm outside Portlaoise in Co. Laois. The main cereals grown on the farm are spring malting barley, winter wheat and winter barley, preferably for seed whenever possible. Mark generally rents out some of his land for potato growing in order to generate the rotation break required to grow seed crops. Mark is married to Linda and they have two children, John and Olivia.

The winning crop of Dawsum winter wheat had an average specific weight of 82.6kph and 9.0% protein at 12.1% moisture across 58 tonnes. Mark’s Tirlán agronomist is Tim Scott.



Thomas Butler, Bennettsbridge, Co. Kilkenny.

Thomas Butler farms with his wife Annabel and two children at Scatorish near Bennettsbridge in Co. Kilkenny. Their farming operation comprises of 250 acres of tillage, 120 acres of grassland and 60 acres of woodland. On the tillage side, 90% of crops are established using a plough while about 10% are direct drilled. The Butler’s rotation includes crops such as winter feed barley, spring malting barley, food grade peas, feed beans and winter or spring oats. Linseed is also grown on the farm, specifically for use in cover crop mixtures. Thomas also grows small quantities of naked barley and heritage wheat varieties, to be used locally in a flour milling operation. The wide range of break crops grown on the farm provides an ideal entry for first wheat crops, which has helped propel Thomas to the winner’s enclosure today.

The winning crop averaged a specific weight of 80.8 kph and 11.0% protein at a moisture of 14.1% across 310 tonnes. Thomas’ Tirlán agronomist is James Hickey.



Larry Flood, Kiltaghan Farm, Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

Larry Flood operates a mixed tillage and suckler calf to beef farm on a combination of owned and rented land at Kiltaghan, near Rathangan in Co. Kildare. Larry grows a wide variety of crops on his farm, including winter and spring oilseed rape, winter and spring oats, winter and spring barley and winter wheat. Most crops are established using a plough and one-pass system but some min-till and direct drilling are also practised. Grains for premium contracts e.g. Cassia barley and food grade oats are sold green off farm but all feed grains are dried and stored to be sold post-harvest. Larry’s Tirlán agronomist is Peter O’Grady.



Ger Leahy, Newtownadam Farm, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Ger and Niamh Leahy operate an intensive tillage farm at Newtownadam, just outside Cahir in south Tipperary. Ger grows a wide range of crops including oilseed rape, winter wheat, winter barley, oats, rye and spring malting barley. Most of his feed wheat and barley are dried and stored on the farm for sale post-harvest. All crops are sown using a plough and one-pass system. The farm employs one full-time worker and Ger drafts in additional labour for the busy harvest period. Ger’s son Sean, who is currently in sixth year in secondary school, also helps out on the farm at weekends and during the summer months.

The Leahy’s Tirlán agronomist is Kevin Tobin.



Gormanlough Farms, Kilberry, Navan, Co. Meath.

Gormanlough Farms is operated by the Timmons family, Peter, Eileen and Ian. They farm a combination of owned and rented land near Kilberry and Slane in Co. Meath. The main crops grown on the farm are winter and spring barley, winter wheat and feed beans. Much of the barley produced on the farm is used in whiskey production by a local distillery while the beans crop serves as the ideal entry for first wheats. The barley is generally sown using a plough-based system while all the beans and some of the wheat is direct drilled.

The Timmons’s also own the well-known farm machinery dealership, Meath Farm Machinery.

The winning crop averaged 27.3% protein at 18.1% across 469 tonnes. Their Tirlán agronomist is Conor Hoey.



Paddy Miller, Athy, Co. Kildare

Paddy Miller farms a mixed tillage and beef farm, along with his son Patrick, a short distance outside Athy in Co. Kildare. Paddy’s focus is on growing premium crops and he maximises the quantity of these in his rotation each year. The father and son partnership has been growing seed barley for Tirlán for the last number of years with the quality seed brought in at harvest always of note. The farm also utilises the protein aid scheme by growing peas which has greatly added to the rotation on the farm and provides an ideal entry for seed crops. The Millers also rotate short term ley around the farm, which is used to produce quality haylage for the equine industry. In recent years, they have also put an increased focus on soil health by utilising animal manures and growing cover crops, which are then grazed by cattle. Paddy has a keen interest in sport, particularly GAA and horse racing.

The winning seed barley crop was a crop of Cassia winter barley which averaged a specific weight of 71.9kph and screenings of 1.9% at a moisture of 14.2% across 82 tonnes.

Patrick’s Tirlán agronomist is Barry Purcell.



Edward Mulhall, Emo, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

Edward Mulhall runs a mixed tillage, dairy and beef farm along with his son James and their wives Kathleen and Grace in New Inn, Emo, Co Laois. The tillage enterprise is a large scale, highly intensive operation, growing over 700 acres in total. The rotation comprises a diverse range of crops including winter barley, winter wheat, oilseed rape (HEAR), fodder beet, gluten free oats and spring malting barley. The Mulhalls are strong believers in crop nutrition and soil sample regularly which allows them to follow a fertiliser plan to best utilise nutrients and get the most from each crop. Trace elements are also included in crop nutrition plans and both Eddie and James believe supplementing the crop with these nutrients helps them achieve better results at harvest in terms of yield and quality. In recent years, the tillage farming enterprise is looking at using more min-till establishment techniques which will help balance workload and also improve soil structure and health over time.

The winning crop averaged an oil content of 55.6% at a moisture content of 7.7% across 151 tonnes. This crop was the High Erucic Acid Rape (HEAR) variety Ergo. The Mulhall’s Tirlán agronomist is Barry Purcell.