Dr. Sean Flanagan

Sean Flanagan 2010

Merit Award

For his outstanding contribution to the Irish Grassland Association, being the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer for 30 years of its 60 years existence, a council member for 39 years, and for his leadership in research and technology transfer for sheep production, particularly grassland management, I wish to nominate Dr. Sean Flanagan for the Irish Grassland Association Lifetime Merit Award for 2010.

Sean was the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer for the Irish Grassland Association from 1969 to 1999, during which he was ably assisted by his wife Madeline. Whilst being the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer he served with 32 different presidents. As Honorary Secretary and Treasurer he was responsible for

1)      organising four council meetings annually

2)      presenting the financial accounts at the annual general meetings

3)      organising sheep, beef and dairy conferences

4)      organising study tours including visits to Germany, United Kingdom (11 visits), France, Netherlands and the USA

5)      liaised with, and organised joint meetings with, other foreign societies including the International Grassland Congress, European Grassland Federation, British Grassland Society, British Society of Animal Science, Ulster Grassland Society and Fermanagh Grassland Club. For many of these joint meetings he served as the Hon. Secretary of the Organising Committees

6)      secured corporate membership for the Association

7)      actively promoted the Association by producing brochures and press articles.

Sean joined the AFT Sheep Research Centre at Creagh, Co. Mayo in 1960 following graduation with a B. Agr. Sc. (Hon) from UCD. Subsequently he completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 1964. On his return to AFT, Creagh, he continued his research work on classification of the characteristics of hill and lowland wools. In 1970 Sean was assigned to the Animal Husbandry Department at Creagh undertaking research and technology transfer on over wintering ewes, either on forage crops or housing, and on early lamb production. In 1973 Sean was instrumental in the planning and development of facilities and implementation of research programmes, on a new 240 ha leased research farm at Belclare, Co. Galway. In 1978 he set up the Blindwell Field Station at Tuam to evaluate whole farm systems of sheep production, including tillage, which became a focal point for technology transfer for sheep production until 1992. Also in 1985 he was assigned extra responsibilities as Farm Director of the new Research and Development Sheep Unit at Knockbeg, Co. Carlow, undertaking research work on impact of grassland management, handling facilities, housing, early lamb production, improving labour efficiency, extended grazing and finally year round grazing on the performance of the ewe flock. Knockbeg provided a focal centre in the East of Ireland for sheep research and technology transfer. Sean retired in 2005 shortly after organising a Sheep Conference at Greenmount College, Co. Antrim jointly hosted by the Irish Grassland Association, Ulster Grassland Association and the British Society of Animal Science. During his career Sean addressed the Irish Grassland Association Conferences on 7 occasions.

For me, growing up and attending Irish Grassland Association events from approximately 10 years of age, Sean Flanagan was the Irish Grassland Association as he was central to each event, not only in the organisation but also in the running of the actual events and keeping them to time.

Therefore it is an honour to nominate Dr. Sean Flanagan for the Lifetime Merit Sward for 2010 as he was the ‘corner stone’ of the Association for over 30 years during which time he undertook the thankless position of Secretary and Treasurer, for no financial reward, and for his major contribution to research and technology transfer on all aspects of sheep production.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Keady.