More speakers to be announced

Conor Melvin


‘Subsequent to graduating from UCD in 2013, Conor commenced his career in mixed practice in Roscrea, North Tipperary before returning home to practice across North County Dublin. The practice consists of predominantly Farm animal work whilst also acting as the in-House Veterinary surgeon of Tayto Park Zoo. Further Reproductive technologies interest Conor, including ultrasonography, super ovulation / embryo transfer and bull breeding evaluations which he combines with his other passion of breeding pedigree Salers and Charolais cattle with only recently Ashbury Salers achieving the Overall Salers Champion and Reserve at the Tullamore National Livestock Championships.
Conor is an active member of Veterinary Ireland and involved with the formation of the ‘Recent Graduate Technical Working Group’ within VI. and regularly contributes to Farm animal Clinical Society meetings, Liquid Milk discussion group training events along with Assisting the Irish Blue Cross Ambulatory Veterinary Clinics across Dublin.”

Natascha Meunier


After graduating as a veterinarian from the University of Pretoria in 2005, Natascha worked for a number of years in mixed-practice and as a government veterinarian in South Africa. In 2013 she completed an MSc in epidemiology from the Utrecht University (Netherlands), while working as a private practitioner. She obtained her PhD on bovine tuberculosis in cattle and wildlife in Uganda through the Royal Veterinary College before working as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh. Natascha currently works as the Beef Health Check Programme manager at Animal Health Ireland and is training as a resident in European College of Veterinary Public Health.

Dr Maria Guelbenzu

BVD & IBR Programme Manager

After graduating from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zaragoza (Spain) Maria moved to Northern Ireland, where she gained five years of experience as a veterinary practitioner in a mixed practice. She joined the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) as a Veterinary Research Officer in 2005, working initially on contingency planning for epizootic diseases such as avian influenza and swine fever. From January 2008 Maria managed the diagnostic virology laboratory (classical and molecular virology) and serology at AFBI’s Veterinary Sciences Division, becoming Technical Manager for ISO17025 accredited serological and molecular tests. 
Maria has worked in the AFBI Cattle Health Scheme (CHS) since 2008, leading and coordinating it since 2010. This is a voluntary scheme which provides disease management programmes with the objective of accrediting disease-free or risk level status for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), infectious bovine rhinotraqueitis (IBR), leptospirosis, neosporosis and Johne’s disease. For the last 10 years she has been involved in several research projects related to endemic diseases of cattle, focusing mostly on BVD and IBR. These projects have studied the diagnosis, epidemiology, cost and control of these diseases.  Maria has been a member of Animal Health Ireland BVD and IBR Technical Working Groups since 2010 and 2011 respectively as well Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland BVD Implementation Group since it was set up. She was awarded a PhD from Queens University, Belfast, in 2015 for research on BVD. She has been Head of the Disease Surveillance and Investigation Branch in AFBI which delivers passive animal disease surveillance for Northern Ireland, since 2013 until joining Animal Health Ireland in 2018.

Jonathan Cooney


Jonathan graduated from UCD in 1989. He worked in mixed veterinary practice in Wexford, England and Meath for twelve years prior to joining the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in February 2001. Following an initial two years working in the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy section in Agriculture House at the height of the BSE crisis he transferred to the Animal Health & Welfare Division arriving in Westmeath District Veterinary Office (DVO) in mid-2003 via a brief sojourn in Offaly DVO. Jonathans’ main roles within the Regional Veterinary Office involve implementation of disease controls, safeguarding of animal welfare and live animal export certification. He has extensive experience in the management of welfare compromised holdings involving many different processes. Jonathan is a former President of the Veterinary Officers Association and is a current member of the Veterinary Officers Animal Welfare Subcommittee.   

Jessica Cooke (nee Brickell)

BSc PhD  Research Scientist, Volac

Jessica grew up on a mixed farm in East Sussex. She gained a first-class degree in Zoology from the University of Leeds, followed by a PhD at the Royal Veterinary College, London. During her PhD, Jessica conducted a large on-farm study to determine the importance of factors during calf development on the subsequent fertility, productivity and longevity of dairy cows. Following a 3-year research post at the Royal Veterinary College in the area of dairy cow fertility, Jessica joined Volac in 2010 as their Young Animal Technical Specialist, providing in-depth technical support for the young animal products. In her current role at Volac as a Research Scientist, she is responsible for building and managing the company’s knowledge platform for the young animal sector. Throughout her career, Jessica has published numerous peer-reviewed scientific papers and has had a key role in raising the profile of the calf and heifer within the dairy industry.

Ciaran Mellett


Ciarán qualifies from UCD in 1992 and following a year as house surgeon and been in mixed practice in Co. Meath ever since. His professional interests are Mastitis, Johnes disease and Bovine Abdominal Surgery. A businessman who happens to be a Vet. Outside of work he is a sports fanatic and coaches underage GAA football.

John Lalor

BVM&S (Univ. of Ed.), MA (Dubl.), MRCVS

John is the CEO of the Highfield Veterinary Group, founded at the emergence of European corporates entering the Irish Veterinary sector. Highfield’s core business is to acquire and operate Veterinary practices, which is does in the swine, poultry, ruminant, equine and companion animal sectors. Additionally, with investments around the sector, Highfield operates the only virtual wholesaler in Ireland comprised of over 40 practices and in the IT, sector offering computational solutions for TB testing and prescriptions to over 500 practices in Ireland and the UK

Sean O Sullivan


Sean is from Castleisland, Co Kerry, graduated from UCD in 1980. After qualifying Sean spent a year in Clonakilty and subsequently sometime in the UK before returning to Kerry where he joined Dave O Loughlin and partners in Castleisland. 
This practice has since evolved to become known as Castle Vet Clinic, a 95% large animal practice, where he shares with his colleague John Quill MVB CertDHH.

Sean is past president of the Irish Veterinary Union and of the Irish Limousin Cattle Society.
His hobbies are Limousin Cattle breeding and Bee Keeping.

John Moriarty

Superintending Senior Research Officer, Department of Agricultural, Food & Marine

John Moriarty is a Superintending Senior Research Officer in the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine Veterinary laboratories in Backweston. Co. Kildare. He is the Head of Pathology Division which hosts the national reference laboratories for TSEs and CEM, biochemistry/toxicology section, clinical microbiology, histopathology and diagnostic pathology of domestic animals with a particular focus on pigs and poultry. John joined the veterinary laboratory services in 1997 and has worked in two regional veterinary laboratories, in Pathology Division and on biosecurity since then. Within veterinary laboratory diagnostics, his particular interests are veterinary toxicology in a particular of heavy metals; botulism; endemic disease and herd health and performance, other activities include collaborative research on tuberculosis in wild deer and respiratory disease in pigs. Biosecurity and lab planning are also an interest, as biosecurity officer, he led the design team on the successful development of the high containment veterinary facility for animal virus’s exotic to Ireland. Prior to joining DAFM he was a veterinary practitioner in mixed practice for nine years in Ireland.

Conor Beirne

Keane Murray Curran Veterinary

Conor Beirne qualified from UCD in 1998 and worked in a number of different large animal practices in Ireland until 2012 when he completed a full time MBA at UCD Smurfit Business School. In 2013 he went to work for Almarai in Saudi Arabia as Senior Vet. After two years he returned to Ireland to work as Senior Vet for Dairymaster. In 2015/2016 he completed the Graduate Certificate in Dairy Herd Health. In the spring of 2016 he returned to large animal practice in the West of Ireland but also continued to work on dairy projects in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. He is currently working in large animal practice in Loughrea, Co Galway with Keane, Murray and Curran Veterinary. In his spare time he farms with his father in Strokestown, Co Roscommon.

Damien Barrett


Damien Barrett is a 1996 UCD veterinary graduate. He is currently superintending veterinary inspector in the Surveillance, ABP and TSE (SAT) division in the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). Damien is also currently responsible for the implementation of the Dept’s Animal Health Surveillance strategy, the TSE surveillance programme (for BSE and Scrapie) and management of the One Health scientific support team. Last year, he coordinated DAFM’s position in the Animal Health Law negotiations. Prior to joining SAT, he was a research officer in Sligo RVL.
Damien is a previous committee member and chair of CAVI, and a board member of the European College of Bovine Herd Health Management (ECBHM). He is currently chairman of AHI’s Technical Working Group on BVD. He is a member of the executive committee of the Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (SVEPM), and chairs the local organising committee for SVEPM 2020 which is to take place in Westport in March 2020. Damien also chairs the scientific committee for the International Colloquim on Paratuberculosis which is to take place in Dublin Castle in June 2020. He has recently completed his PhD thesis on the emergence and re-emergence of Schmallemberg virus in Ireland.

David McKeown


David is a 1972 Glasgow graduate and spent 24 years as owner / partner in a 6-vet mixed practice in north Co. Antrim.
He became a Board member of the Veterinary Defence Society in 1988, balancing both practice and VDS roles until VDS became ‘morethan’ full time in 2000.
He has chaired various committees in VDS, and been a member of its Executive, the small team which essentially runs the business. He has recently retired from his VDS role as Director of Member Services.
David is also a Samaritan volunteer and involved with VetLife. The impact of all 3 organisations is the driver behind his involvement in the Vet Support NI and Vet Support Scotland initiatives.

Donal Murphy

Member of XL Vets

Qualified in 1983. Worked in Millstreet, Co. Cork for 6 months, and in mixed practice in Rathmore since 1984. Member of XL Vets. Completed the Grad Cert in Dairy Herd Health in 2012. Interests outside of Veterinary are GAA and music.

Doreen Corridan


Doreen was reared on a dairy farm in North Kerry, graduated from UCD with an MVB MRCVS in 1987, and received a PhD in cattle reproduction UCD in 1990, in 2016 she obtained a Certificate in Dairy Herd Health from UCD.  Currently, Doreen is working with Munster Bovine in Mallow Co Cork where she works with and advises dairy and suckler farmers on genetics, animal breeding, and animal health issues.  Doreen is a strong advocate of herd health planning to avoid the overuse of antibiotics and anthelmintics.

In addition, she is a regular contributor to several farming publications and has served on the board of ICBF from its inauguration in 2001 to 2012 and is currently is a member of the ICBF Technical Advisory Group.

Along with her husband Tim and her daughter Katie, breed and show pedigree Limousin cattle from their award-winning Roundhill herd.  In 2016 they hosted the International Limousin Congress. Doreen is actively involved in Limerick Show and is the Chairperson of their cattle committee.

Finbar Mulligan

BAgrSc MAgrSc PhD

Associate Diplomate of the European Society of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition, Associate Professor of Animal Nutrition, School Of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin. Finbar Mulligan has worked in the area of ruminant nutrition since 1996.  He began his career working on the development of the Irish Net Energy System for Cattle and Sheep and gained a MAgrSc and a PhD in the initial four year period of his research career.  In 2002 he took up a position as Lecturer in Animal Nutrition in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin.  As well as teaching and research duties, a large component of his role involves working on referral cases involving animal nutrition problems for dairy herds.  Most of his research focuses on dairy cow nutrition and metabolic status.  He is an author of more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers in this area, some of which have been amongst the most cited in their field since their time of publication.  He is Associate Professor of Animal Nutrition in the School of Veterinary Medicine and an Associate Diplomat of the European College of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition. 

Gerry Giggins

International Beef Production Consultant, Nutrition Link Ltd and Director of Farm Tours Ireland

Gerry began his working career in 1979 with Bord na Mona, the Irish National Peat Development Board, where he was a member of the land development section. Gerry had direct responsibility for the intensive bull beef finishing operations throughout Bord na Mona. This was a unique production system in Ireland at that time. Gerry furthered his academic standing while studying in The Netherlands in 1982 at Vaganingen University. This was the second time Gerry was to study in The Netherlands, having spent six months there in 1979 as an exchange student.

In 1988, Gerry took up the position as feed-lot manager with the Irish Agricultural Development Company. He was responsible for developing efficient beef finishing systems for different market requirements. In excess of 12,000 cattle were slaughtered off this farm annually. New methods of storing forages and concentrates were developed. The feedlot grew to be the largest in Europe in the early 1990s.

Today Gerry is regarded an expert for animal nutrition and provides invaluable advice to farmers worldwide. He writes a column for the Farming Independent, a supplement to Ireland’s largest selling daily newspaper Irish Independent. For Farm Tours Ireland he loves showing international visitors the unique Irish way of farming.

James O’Shaughnessy

MVB, PhD, Researcher, Department of Agricultural, Food & the Marine

James O’Shaughnessy graduated as a veterinary surgeon from University College Dublin (UCD) in 2000. After graduation, he spent ten years working in farm animal practice both in the UK and Ireland. In 2010, he enrolled as a postgraduate student in UCD and was subsequently awarded a PhD. Much of his PhD was focused on parasite control in cattle. After working in the UCD veterinary school as a Teaching Fellow in 2015, he joined the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in 2016 as a Research Officer. Presently, he is also enrolled as a resident with the European Veterinary Parasitology College and is chairperson of the Animal Health Ireland Parasite Control Technical Working Group.

Jim Woulfe

Dairygold Chief Executive

Jim Woulfe is CEO of Dairygold (since July 2009), Ireland’s largest farmer owned Dairy & Agri Business employing 1,250 people and with a turnover of €1 billion.  Dairygold has c. 7,000 shareholders and is the country’s second largest dairy processor assembling 1.4 billion litres of milk annually from its 2,850 milk producers. Dairygold is a leading global food ingredients company with locations in Cork, UK, Germany, Spain and China. Jim has worked in the agri-food sector throughout his career.  A UCC Dairy Science graduate, he joined the milk processing division of Ballyclough Co-operative Creamery in 1979; Ballyclough Creamery and Mitchelstown Creamery merged to form Dairygold Co-Operative Society in 1990.  He has held many leadership roles throughout his career including Head of HR and Head of Agri Business before his appointment as CEO in 2009.

Maresa Sheehan


Maresa is currently working in Kilkenny Regional Veterinary Laboratory as a Senior Research Officer. After qualifying as a Veterinary Surgeon in 1997 from UCD, she worked for eight years in large animal practice. She started working Eyrecourt Co. Galway with primarily sucklers/beef and sheep and smaller numbers of dairy herds. A move to large animal practice in Thurles Co. Tipperary meant an increased emphasis on dairy work. She completed her research Masters in Veterinary Medicine, with her thesis entitled ‘Clinicopathological Investigation of Infectious Respiratory Disease of Sheep in Ireland’ in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology, University College Dublin. Since joining the Veterinary Laboratory Service she has provided a post mortem service to vets and their clients and carried out collaborative research with Teagasc, UCD, local PVPs, HSE, DAFM colleagues in other Regional Veterinary Laboratories and AHI. Projects included anthelmintic resistance in sheep and first season dairy calves, the prevalence of Haemonchus contortus in sheep, seroconversion to liver fluke in slaughtered lambs, sheep and dairy calf mortality studies, udder health in cull cows, zoonosis and hypocalcaemia. She was awarded Fellowship of the Royal College of pathologists in February 2019

Patrick O'Neill


Growing up on a beef and sheep farm in county Wicklow, Patrick graduated from UCD Veterinary college in 2013. Patrick worked in mixed practice in Canada, Ireland and the UK before joining Warburton Technology in Cahirciveen Co Kerry in November 2017. In this role Patrick has spoken about trace mineral supplementation and oxidative stress in cattle at different events in Ireland, France, the UK, UAE, America and Australia.
Title of Talk: Oxidative Stress in bovines

Rob Doyle


Senior Superintending Veterinary Inspector in the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) and Head of division of Antimicrobial Resistance, Veterinary Medicines, Animal Welfare and Ruminant Trade Division.  Completed a Veterinary Medicines degree in University College Dublin in 1988 and a master’s course in Innovation Management in the Public service in University of Ulster in 2017.  Worked in general practice for 6 years until joining DAFM in 1994. 

Associate Professor Rory Breathnach

MVB Msc MRCVS PhD, School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin

Rory qualified from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCD) in 1986. Following an internship in small animal clinical studies in Dublin, he obtained an MSc in drug toxicology from the University of London. After 4 years in small animal practice, he returned to the Dublin Vet School in 1991 as a lecturer. His PhD was obtained in UCD and involved a study of the immunopathogenesis of idiopathic pododermatitis in the dog. Rory currently teaches various aspects of small animal internal medicine, toxicology and dermatology. In addition, Rory is a member of the Advisory Committee on Veterinary Medicines (Health Products Regulatory Authority) and the Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products (CVMP, European Medicines Agency). Rory is the Chair of the Scientific Advice Working Party (Veterinary) of the CVMP and has been Clinical Director of the UCD Veterinary Hospital since 2015.

Tadhg Gavin


Tadhg qualified from veterinary medicine in UCD in 2010, from where he went off to work in 2 vert mixed practice in north Cork until returning home to Co. Clare in late 2015 to enter partnership in Killaloe Veterinary Clinic. Tadhg completed the UCD postgraduate certificate in dairy herd health 2016. Enjoying all aspects of mixed practice but he has a particular interest in bovine surgery and bovine reproductive health. Tadhg is the current vice-chair of Veterinary Ireland Food Animal Committee and is involved in the recent graduate working group.

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