Judging Panel

The below list of judges below includes individuals from the environmental, agricultural and community sector, reflecting the importance of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of farming sustainably.

Ailbhe Gerrard

Ailbhe Gerrard is a Farming For Nature Ambassador.  She runs a 30 hectare farm on the banks of Lough Derg in Co.Tipperary. Ailbhe is a certified organic farmer, and an educator with a deep interest in farming as a holistic, regenerative activity. Ailbhe shares her passion of farming with others with regular open days and demonstration days.  Agricultural research and practice is an ongoing interest for Ailbhe. She has an MSc in Organic Farming from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and an MSc. in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London.  Ailbhe’s farming responsibilities now include managing: an organically certified sheep enterprise; a native woodland and a broadleaf plantation, beehives producing honey for farm diversification, tillage crops, vegetable crops, GLAS agri-environment measures.

Anne Kinsella

Anne, an economist, works in the Rural Economy and Development Programme (REDP), Teagasc and specialises in the area of production economics and farm level analysis. Her research interests include land-use economics, with a particular interest on the impact of policy and taxation on decisions in relation to succession, inheritance and land mobility. Anne compliments her economics research with her qualification as a chartered certified accountant and also holds a masters of science from UCD. Having completed her postgraduate dissertation on area specific environmental policy, she retains a keen research interest in environmental/multidisciplinary projects, to include the most successful BurrenLIFE project (led by Brendan Dunford) on which she was member of steering committee. Anne is the Irish representative on the OECD International network for farm level analysis and the international Agri Benchmark Beef and Sheep Network. She is a member of numerous national advisory groups and steering committees to include National Rural Network Sub-Advisory Committee on Farm Viability and Competitiveness.  (Joined panel 2019)

Barry O’Donoghue

Barry is Head of Agri-Ecology with the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS). Barry hails from the Kingdom of Kerry where he grew up in the Stack’s Mountains with a combination of farming and nature interests. Barry did his undergrad at UCD on Agriculture and Environment, followed by a Research Master’s on the Hen Harrier and a subsequent PhD on the ecology and conservation of Hen Harriers, while also working as a Ranger with NPWS. Barry has a keen interest in sports, our coast and seas, farming, communities and nature. At present, the next CAP Strategic Plan, Curlew, Corncrake, raptor poisoning and persecution and the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme are just some of the various topics that the Agri-Ecology Unit of NPWS are working on.  (Joined panel 2019)

Brendan Dunford

From a farming background in Co. Waterford, Brendan has spent the past 20 years living and working in the Burren region. He led the award-winning BurrenLIFE Project (2005-2010), its successor, the pioneering ‘Burren Farming for Conservation Programme’ (2010-2015) and currently manages the new ‘Burren Programme’. Along with his late wife Ann O’Connor, Brendan co-founded Burrenbeo Teo and is secretary of its successor, the Burrenbeo Trust, Ireland’s only landscape-based charity which delivers an extensive annual programme of place-based learning initiatives. Brendan is a former board member of the Heritage Council, a former member of the EPA Advisory Committee and a former Director of the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism. He is an Ashoka Fellow for Ireland.  (On panel 2018-present)

Clive Bright

Clive raises 100% pasture-fed organic livestock on his 120-acre farm in south Co. Sligo. He has a mixed herd of adapted, traditional breeds suited to his heavy soil and to maintain the farm’s species-rich grasslands. He sells his finished beef and lamb directly to the consumer under his brand Rare Ruminare. He uses Holistic Managed Grazing to ensure the pastures are given time to recover fully between grazing events; this strengthens the pasture, increases diversity, improves and protects the soil, and allows for a longer grazing season. In addition, he is establishing various silvopasture systems across his farm, to harness the functional benefits trees can have on the landscape and his enterprise.  As well as managing the farm, Clive is PR and Development Officer with the Organic Trust, a board member of the National Organic Training Skillnet and a member of the Irish Agroforestry Forum, and a Farming For Nature Ambassador. (On panel since 2021)

Dolores Byrne

Dolores Byrne is a lecturer in Environmental Science in the Institute of Technology, Sligo. She was the project ecologist on the Results-based Agri-environment Payment Scheme (RBAPS) pilot scheme which ran from 2015 to 2018. This project tested the potential applicability of quality-based payments for grassland and crops in County Leitrim, the Shannon callows and the Navarra region of Spain. Dolores was involved in developing and testing the scoring assessments for species-rich grassland and marsh fritillary habitat. She is a technical advisor to the Pearl Mussel Project EIP, and a member of the Inishowen Farmers EIP Operational Group, both of which are exploring the potential for results-based agri-environmental schemes in upland areas. She is a member of the Centre for Environmental Research, Innovation and Sustainability in IT Sligo and is also part of a group of researchers in GMIT and IT Sligo currently working on agroecology, rural development and sustainable communities and their links with high nature value farming systems.

Derek McLoughlin

Derek McLoughlin lives in his native Westport, Co. Mayo. He is an ecologist by training and has led research on a broad range of ecological topics from plants and their habitats to mammals and birds. He has a particular interest in how we interact with nature and the land, its people and their stories.  This interest has guided his work in agriculture towards the use of results-based payment schemes as a tool to realise agriculture and environmental policy that works for farmers, the public, and nature. He worked with the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism on the EU RBAPS project in Ireland and Spain, the Pearl Mussel Project European Innovation Partnership (EIP), and is currently Project Manager of the Wild Atlantic Nature LIFE IP in the northwest of Ireland. (On panel since 2021)

Hannah Denniston

Hannah is originally from Waterford where she grew up with an interest in nature and the outdoors. She has been living in Co. Wexford for the last 10 years.  Since 2017 she has been working as an ecologist in the Biodiversity Section of the Nitrates and Biodiversity Division of DAFM, Johnstown Castle Wexford. Previous to this role she spent three years at Teagasc carrying out research on farmland biodiversity, including farmland habitats, biodiversity indicators and biodiversity food labelling. She did her undergraduate in Applied Ecology in UCC and later (2011) also her Research Masters on Breeding Curlew. Her mixed background in ecology survey work and research including with Bird Watch Ireland, Bat Conservation Ireland and UCC led to an interest in farmland habitats, biodiversity and agricultural policy in Ireland. Currently her work with DAFM is in providing biodiversity policy support and advice along with engagement with many working groups and projects. (On panel since 2023)

Hannah Quinn Mulligan

Hannah Quinn-Mulligan is a farmer and award-winning journalist working with RTÉ and the Farming Independent. She runs a farm of pedigree Hereford cattle and free-range poultry with her grandmother in Tory Hill, Co Limerick. She is also the founding member and chairperson of the Women in Agriculture Stakeholders Group. Hannah is currently studying for a Masters in Organic Farming with SRUC and previously worked with the UN and the BBC where she presented and produced a number of documentaries on rural life. She has a keen interest in biodiversity and future of CAP policy. (On panel since 2020)

Kim McCall

Kim is a  farmer from Kilcullen, Co.Kildare and a Farming For Nature Ambassador since 2018.  He manages a 214-acre mixed livestock stock farm where they keep a herd of 75 Aubrac cows and their followers, a flock of c.80 sheep, as well as a few pigs in the summertime. The farm boasts a wide range of habitats – wetlands, woodlands, wet and dry grasslands, old buildings and walls. Kim acknowledges that farming sustainably isn’t easy, particularly trying to remain profitable, but feels that if you manage the land within its capacity, it’s very doable. Kim’s work has been recognised by several national conservation awards and appearances on TV. The McCalls work closely with the National Biodiversity Data Centre providing valuable data on biodiversity in the farmland context.  (On panel since 2020)

Ruth Wilson

Ruth grew up on a mixed farm in County Antrim, which led her to study horticulture, then land and environmental management. Ruth has over 20 years’ experience working in local biodiversity planning and nature conservation with local government and non-government conservation organisations.  Ruth became the Farmland Pollinator Officer, with the National Biodiversity Data Centre in 2021, to assist in the implementation of the farmland actions of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and the ‘Biodiversity on your Farm’ project. The post is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. (On panel since 2023)


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