Farming is by far the most important industry in Ireland and the contribution of Tipperary to that success is significant, said former IFA general secretary Michael Berkery on Saturday night.
He was speaking after he had been inducted into the Tipperary Association Dublin’s Hall of Fame at the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel in Dublin.
Running one of the country’s top voluntary organisations, Mr Berkery was one of the most influential men in Irish farming, working alongside eight IFA presidents over a 25-year term and playing a key role in formulating policy and development and implementing strategy for the IFA - and for Irish agriculture generally.
Association president Liam Myles, who worked closely with the Toomevara native, said his focus throughout his career was improving the lives of Irish farm families.
After stepping down as IFA boss, he maintains his close link with farming as chairman of FBD Holdings, one of the strongest businesses in Ireland today with profits of over €51m and assets of €1 billion.
“We are very proud when one of our own reaches the top and we are very proud of Michael Berkery”, Mr Myles said.
Mr Berkery said he felt inadequate receiving the award without a hatful of All Ireland medals similar to other recipients such as Donie Nealon, Tony Reddan and ‘The Rattler’ Byrne but he was very proud and humbled to be honoured by his own Tipperary people.
And he was delighted to be honoured on the same night that Brendan Cummins was named Tipperary Person of the Year, describing the Ardfinnan man as a wonderful role model for young people.
Stressing the importance of agriculture in his native county, Mr Berkery said there were six thousand farmers in Tipperary and another four thousand people in food processing and services. “That’s ten thousand people employed in our towns and villages and highlights the importance of agriculure to the county’s econony”, He said that Tipperary as a brandname was known all over the world and should be marketed for the benefit of the county.