Gilligan’s scoops JFC innovational award for value added food

Pictured at the presentation of the JFC /Teagasc Innovation Awards for Rural Business were Noel Treacy, Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, with the winners of the Value Added Food Production Category, Padraig, Grainne, and Alan Gilligan, and Teagasc Acting Director, Tom Kirley. There were celebrations in Derrane this week as local family-owned firm Gilligan’s Farm Fresh Meats scooped a category award in the prestigious JFC Innovation Awards. In fact, two local businesses made it through to the finals of the JFC Innovation Awards. Mark Hanley and Michael Spellman of Green Grove Wood Energy of Killeenboy, Kilteevan were also among the 12 finalists. The winners were announced at a special event in the Hodson Bay Hotel on Tuesday night last. Padraig Gilligan was nominated for his tray-packed meat cuts from the farm for niche markets while Mark Hanley and Michael Spellman were nominated for their business which processes wood from tree felling, forestry thinnings and timber mill residues as a renewable fuel for burning in customised burners. Reacting to the win, Padraig Gilligan of Gilligan’s Farm Fresh Meats said, “We were delighted and surprised by the win. There were 69 applicants and we were one of 12 finalists selected. The competition is run by the Farmers Journal and Teagasc and sponsored by JFC. “We won the category for value-added food. Representatives from the Farmers Journal came out and interviewed us. They went through the business and what we do, the different cuts of meat and the way we grow the meat. “We grow the meat on the farm here in Derrane. The cattle are fed on a special diet and we get white fat and pink meat, which is unusual in the sense that if you go into a butcher’s shop, it is difficult to get that meat, because it is all exported to Italy. We’re selling this meat to our customers in the butcher’s, supermarkets, restaurant and hotels that we supply.” Gilligan’s Farm Fresh Meats currently employ 17 people in Derrane. The JFC Innovation Awards for Rural Business is a new award scheme aimed at farmers and the rural community. It is a kick-start competition where prizes are awarded for business ideas and plans with a prize fund of €30,000 comprising cash, advertising, mentoring and business support. The overall winner’s prize is valued at €15,000. The Innovation Awards comprise three categories: (1) environmental or energy, (2) manufacturing or technology and (3) rural tourism or value added food production or services. Ireland continually features near the top of the list of the most entrepreneurially active countries in Europe as published in the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report. The award scheme encourages entrepreneurial spirit in rural areas, particularly within the farming community. The objectives of the competition are to encourage a flow of new ideas from rural areas, to help individuals develop a business idea become reality and to motivate people to take an innovative approach to new business.