About FRS Cahir

Turning Ideas into Reality

When South Tipperary Macra na Feirme set up the first Farm Relief Service in the country in 1971 ideas on co-operation and helping ones neighbour were put on a more formal and business-like footing.

In 1970, a number of Macra members had participated in a holiday exchange with young farmers in Wales. Whilst there, they had witnessed co-operation between farmers which they subsequently reflected on and spoke about. Also, the Chief Agricultural Officer for South Tipperary, Dave Hurley, who attended most Co. Executive meetings, had suggested that some way of sharing work to allow individuals have a break or a holiday would be of huge benefit to all farmers.

Against this background, the potential for expansion in Agricultural through membership of the EEC Common Agricultural Policy created a more business-like approach inside the farm gate. During this period also Macra na Feirme was pioneering agricultural courses in Dairy Hygiene/Milking Machine Maintenance/Farm Welding/Grass Management and other training under its Farm Proficiency programme. Every Macra club had a significant number of young farmers, so the focus of the organisation was on Personal Development through areas such as Leadership courses, Debating/Public Speaking/Drama, Farm Task competitions in addition to a comprehensive Farm Training Programme.

When the service was launched it was exclusively a Relief Milking Service but from the outset it was envisaged that scope to develop other services would emerge as time passed.

"1971 Committee"

Back Row (left to right): Richard Lanigan, Michael Slattery, Gus Bulfin, Frank Blackwell and Dan Ryan

Front Row (left to right): Michael Carew and Pat O' Dwyer

"Original notice from the paper on Thursday, 8th July 1971."

"Current Committee"

Back Row (left to right): Pat O' Connor, Dan Butler, John Devane, Pat O' Dwyer and Martin Bourke (CEO)

Front Row (left to right): James O' Donnell (Chairman) and Dermot Ryan (Vice Chairperson) Absent from photo: Denis Corcoran



Small Beginnings and Growing Support

A perusal of Bank Statements for 1971, based on a charge for membership of 25p per cow, indicates that income was generated from between 400 and 500 cows. By the year three, this figure had grown to between 800 – 1,000 cows. These figures suggest that the average number of herds availing of the service was approximately 20 – 25 in the first year and 40 – 50 herds two years later. Any business which doubles its client base in two years is going in the right direction.

The National Farmers’ Association (NFA) now IFA was very supportive of Macra in setting up the Relief Service. In correspondence between the fledgling service, Joe Rea, County Chairman and Jos. Mockler, Co. Secretary of the NFA in South Tipperary offered financial support for the training costs incurred to equip the Relief Milk Operators with the necessary skills.

Support was also forthcoming from the Agricultural Advisors of the area, under the management of Dave Hurley CAO, in the promotion of operator training to the highest standard of milking practices.

Memories and Reflections of the Early Years

Pat O’Dwyer and Richard Lanigan who co-ordinated the service in the early years gave a huge voluntary commitment to ensure a professional service was up and running. In an era of no mobile phones and limited hours of phone service in many areas, it was a huge challenge to link the Relief Milkers and the Farmers needing the service.

Milk Relief workers’ training was initially provided on the farms of committee members to ensure that all necessary skills were imparted. Both Michael Slattery and Michael Carew, first joint treasurers of the Farm Relief, believed that this was vital to avoid reputational damage to the fledgling service.

Dan Ryan recalled that from the beginning, a view that a range of services would be in demand if a reliable image and professional delivery was developed. He felt that a Milk Relief Service was the best one to start with. In the years that followed, most counties adopted the South Tipperary model – Relief Milking initially and later branching into other services. Dan also believed that the influence of Dave Hurley (CAO, South Tipperary) on Macra members was significant as he was a man of vision who, as the initiator of new ideas and encouragement at County Executive meetings, was the catalyst for positive change.

45 Years of Growth

Based in Cahir, the Farm Relief Service has expanded and diversified beyond the expectations of the original instigators.

The range of services now provided for its users include:

  • Relief Milking
  • Hoof Care
  • Calf Dehorning
  • Cow Scanning
  • Cattle Weighing
  • General Farm Work
  • Tractor Driving
and many other relief work areas.

Similarly, the Fencing Services offered include:

  • Farm Fencing
  • Residential Fencing
  • Commercial Fencing


The Farm Shop offers both an in-house and online shopping service. By visiting www.frscahir.ie users can browse our online shop and select from a full range of farm, veterinary and fencing products. All this available 24/7 from the comfort of your home.

In an ever changing work environment the need for new services and vision are never greater. The Farm Relief Service model had adapted and expanded and is looking to the future with enthusiasm.

The key benefits for clients of the Farm Relief Service are:

  • Access to the service required for the hours or days needed.
  • Fixed rate charges for services.
  • Workers and service provided are fully insured and carried out competently.
  • Compliance with all Employment Regulations.


1971-1972 Pat O’Dwyer
1972-1980 Pat O’Dwyer and Richard Lanigan
1980- 1982 John Quirke and Rebecca Quirke
1982-1989 Breda Delahunty
1989-1990 P.J. Fitzgerald
1990-1992 Bridget Kirwan
1992- 1993 Ger Shorthall
1993-2005 Mary Hennessy
2005- Martin Bourke


Former Committee Members

Michael Keating Thomas O’Neill
James English James Lonergan
Gus Bulfin Nathaniel Bourke
James Purcell William O’Brien
Denis O’Dwyer John Toomey
Eugene McCormack John Ryan
Liam O’Connor Sean O’Rourke
Kevin O’Donnell Micheal O’Connell
Michael Slattery Michael Boland
Tom Tuohy  


Articles through the years

Online Shop

By visiting www.frscahir.ie users can browse our online shop and select from a full range of farm, veterinary and fencing products. All this available 24/7 from the comfort of your home.

Shop from a full range of farm, veterinary & fencing products

Customers login to the customer portal to view your FRS account.



Enquire on your invoices, statements, deliveries, payments etc. Query transactions to complete profit analysis or answer queries for your accountant. Available 24/7 when you need it.

By clicking on the FRS Customer Login, using your Username (FRS Account Number) and Password you can login to the customer portal which allows you to view your FRS account. This allows you to enquire on your statements, invoices, deliveries, payments, etc. It is available 24/7 when you need it