Along the hills of Divis Mountain outside Belfast in Northern Ireland is the home of cattle showing fanatic, Eamon McGarry.

For anybody who doesn’t know Eamon, and there probably won’t be many in that category, Eamon is a pedigree breeder and as close to a professional cattle fitter and handler as you’ll find on the island of Ireland.

Eamon, who grew up just outside Belfast, farms with his family where they keep 10 pedigree Blonde cattle.

Breeding on McGarry’s farm started 25 years ago and the interest in shows and showing followed very soon after. Eamon works off-farm as an AI technician with AI Services Ltd in south Antrim and also scans breeding females for a living.

Home farm

The McGarrys’ herd was established in 1998 with the purchase of a number of Commercial cows.

The purchase was made by Eamon’s late father, Paul, who later went on to shop for a pedigree British Blonde. Subsequently, after careful selection, his father bought the first of the pedigree Blondes in the year 2000 and the Budore herd was established.

Eamon McGarry exhibiting in the Shorthorn ring at Tullamore Show 2022. \ Shanon Kinahan

The first of the Blonde breeding females was purchased from the Droit and Deerfin herds in Northern Ireland.

It was just four short years later that Eamon and his family took to the show ring for the first time and when I spoke to Eamon about their choice to start showing cattle, it’s clear that the family definitely made the right choice.

The British Blue champion at the RUAS Beef and Lamb Championships, shown by Eamon McGarry, Dundrod, and owned by James Alexander from Randalstown.

“Our first show was Balmoral Show back in 2004,” Eamon recalled.

“We jumped straight into the deep and took a home bred heifer to Balmoral in 2004.

“That summer, we also went to a few local shows and in July of that year we picked up our first reserve championship at Castlewellan Show! That was a special day for me and that’s probably where the show bug began.”

Eamon has travelled all over Ireland and Britain, showing and dressing cattle for some of the top pedigree and Commercial herds in operation and has made the name for himself over the past number of years.

Eamon told the Irish Farmers Journal: “I have dressed and showed cattle all over the country, North and South. I’ve travelled to England, Scotland and Wales and it is nothing shy of an addiction.”

Dressing cattle

“With dressing show cattle I’ve had the opportunity to travel to shows and sales all over and I’ve got to dress cattle that have won their breedchampionships, as well as interbreed championships from Balmoral Show right through to the Borderway Agri Expo in Carlisle.

Junior bull calf all-Ireland champion Caramba Lancelot, senior heifer calf all-Ireland champion Caramba Hottie Koo with Eamonn McGarry and senior bull calf all-Ireland champion Caramba Kinvara with Tommy Staunton at Strokestown Show 2017. \ Alfie Shaw

“I’ve had the pleasure of working for so many incredible herds such as James Alexander’s Jalex Herd, Glebe Farm, Leanne Workman, Cherry Valley Shorthorns, Libby and Lucy Clarke, Ballygowen Blondes, the Rodgers family and Tommy Staunton’s Caramba herd to name but a few.”

Fond memories in show ring

It’s only natural when you’re involved in showing that you would have a memory that sounds out. For some people, this is the day when they won their first or their 10th all-Ireland.

Eamon McGarry and his late father Paul with some of their prizes collected on the show circuit

“For some, it’s their first show, for some it’s their first ever red rosette and for others it’s the first day the kids or grandkids come along. Speaking to Eamon, I wanted to find out what some of his highlights were from the show ring.

If there is anything I have learned from showing, it’s to be humble

“One of my fondest memories in the show ring was back in 2016,” Eamon recalled. “We won the Blonde championship with a junior heifer and it was special as it was something my father always dreamed of. He passed away the following April, so it was great to share that dream with him.”

Fond memories

“Some of the other fond memories would probably be working at the Agri Expo in Carlisle for the Workman family where the quality of stock that year was outstanding and also with the Jalex Herd when I was able to help the team win three Limousin championships in a row along with multiple Commercial cattle championships over the years,” he added.


Eamon also said: “I am very lucky both in the industry and in the company I work for. It all fits together nicely and I’m privileged to be able to get out to the shows doing what I love, clipping and showing cattle.

Eamon McGarry leads out a Limousin bull for team Jalex at the RUAS Balmoral Show. \ Alfie Shaw

“It’s a great way to meet people young and old who you might not see from one end of the year to the next and I love being able to help out where I can, whether it’s clipping before the show or giving a beast a quick brush-up before going into the ring.

“The cherry on top is the social side. You get to meet great people along the way and I would definitely say to someone if you ever thought of getting into showing just do it.

“Never be afraid to ask questions because everyone is more than happy to help.”

Top tips for show ring

When dealing with such a well-rounded show man, it seemed only right to look for some top tips from Eamon.

“For someone who is thinking about getting into showing I would say, never be afraid to ask questions and whether it’s just about what type of soaps, spray, brushes or adhesives might work best on your type of animal or tips for the show ring.

“There are a lot of good people out there with a world of knowledge that they would happily share with you so don’t be too shy to ask,” Eamon said.

“I’d also say just stand back and watch what is happening.

“Sometimes you can learn just as much from watching somebody else do the job and you’d never know what tricks you’d pick up along the way.”

The toolbox

“I know myself, I never go anywhere without a long tooth comb, a curry comb, soaps and waxes, my blower [blow dryer] and not to forget my clippers,” Eamon added.

“If there is anything I have learned from showing, it’s to be humble. In the show ring, at work or in life, a smile goes a long way. I would say it doesn’t matter if you are first or last, just keep smiling!

“And never walk past a show animal without a comb in your back pocket,” Eamon added jokingly.