Champions of the Bull Ring

Clare O'Connor meets some NI beefcake

Rockmount Val, Toberlane Ursina and Ballymena Venus jostle for position in a hotly contested battle of bovine beauty.

Their handlers watch nervously as they are inspected for conformation, good hind quarters and loin.

It can mean only one thing - the Northern Ireland Charolais Club's annual show and sale at Dungannon is up and running.

Herds of Charolais cattle are commonplace now in the Ulster countryside but this French breed was only imported here in 1966.

It quickly became popular - its ability to gain weight fast suited the mechanizations of the beef industry.

There are 800 registered Charolais breeders in Northern Ireland. One of them, Joe Kelly from Clogher, has been dealing in Charolais cattle for years.


He still gets emotionally attached: 'Your heart sinks when you come back from that sale ring. After all you've reared them since they were calves.'


The quality of livestock at the Dungannon Sale is superb and Doris Leeman, Secretary of the Northern Ireland Charolais Club is confident that despite cheaper imported beef from Brazil and Argentina and cuts in European subsidies, Irish beef farming will thrive in the long term.

Today's Supreme Champion, Dunmore Victor, is indeed a healthy indicator as to the state of Irish beef farming. If this magnificent beast is anything to go by beef farmers here have nothing to fear!