Bo Rua recognised as ‘sustainable’ enterprise at RDS awards

Norma and Tom Dinneen of Bó Rua farm, with their children Tadhg, Aine and Meabh. (Pic Orla Murray)

The journey into farmhouse cheesemaking continues to pay dividends for Ballynoe’s Tom and Norma Dinneen, whose Bo Rua enterprise was recognised last Friday at a festival on biodiversity and sustainability in the RDS Dublin. They were amongst three winners from county Cork to be honoured.

As part of the 2-day ‘Finding Common Ground’ event, the RDS also hosted a series of awards which celebrate the work of individuals, farm families and organisations who are enhancing the economic, environmental, and social development of Irish agriculture and rural communities.

Taking home the RDS Sustainable Rural Enterprise Award, the judges recognised Bo Rua Farm as an enterprise where sustainable farming and food are top priorities. By diversifying their dairy farm, the Dinneens have embarked on a journey into farmhouse cheesemaking, utilising milk from their Montbeliarde and Friesian cows. Their commitment to quality and sustainability defines the farm’s ethos, reflecting their heritage and deep respect for the land. They were deemed to be making a significant contribution to the economic, environmental and social development of rural Ireland.


Other Cork winners on the day included Mallow Castle Demense and Town Park, 88 acres of woodlands and parks nestled in the heart of Mallow town, recipients of the Community Woodlands Award.

Cork County Council has undertaken significant native tree planting and biodiversity works in the grounds to build upon the historic planting already in place, with the aim of creating a natural outdoor amenity for the community to enjoy, while promoting local biodiversity.

The judges said: “When Cork County Council decided to buy Mallow Castle and its estate in 2011, they could have simply carried out renovations on the castle and put in a few extra paths though the park and there would have been a fine amenity created. They decided, however, to implement a hugely ambitious plan which involved a lot of work on creation of new woodland, and the management of existing woodland. They now have a town park which is attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year to an amenity which is right in the heart of the town.”

The Community Woodlands Award is designed to encourage and reward projects involving the communal ownership and/or management of forests and woodlands which have been established and managed in a sustainable way that is beneficial to the local economy and/or environment.


Jim & Frampton Jeffery from Midleton, run a flock of pedigree Charollais, Suffolk and Texel ewes. On the day, they received the 2024 RDS-Sheep Ireland LambPlus Award, which recognises excellence in the breeders who are leading the way in performance recording and genetic gain and to those flocks that have made a significant genetic improvement over the past number of years.

Jim and Frampton constantly strive to improve their genetics in the texel flock through the purchase of physically correct stockrams , true to breed type with superior indexes on the LambPlus system.

Finding Common Ground Festival

The inaugural two-day event was delivered as one of the RDS Foundation social impact programmes. It incorporated presentations and panel discussions exploring how Ireland can harness the benefits of our natural resources and the circular economy with a view to creating increased awareness, education, and identification of solutions to act on.