Back in the spring of 1982 when the Woods Brothers decided to introduce new blood-lines into their Aberdeen Angus herd, they contacted their livestock specialist, Mr. Al Maurer and after some discussion they decided that they would import some stock from Ireland. Al wrote to me inquiring whether I could find a bull in Ireland of certain dimensions. At the time I did not think that this type of Angus bull was available in full Irish blood in Ireland. After a lengthy search I realized that my suspicions were correct and I wrote to Al and advised him that U.S.A. breeders had this big type of animal that would not be considered as having the typical characteristics of the breed as we knew it here in Ireland. However, I advised Al that I had come across some very interesting females of full Irish blood in my travels. This I felt would be the best way to introduce new blood-lines into their herd. We already have wonderful results when sires imported from that side of the world were crossed with our females. In Ireland the dam is always looked upon as giving 75% of the results of the calf. With this in mind I invited the Woods Brothers and Al Maurer to come to Ireland and see for themselves what I was telling them about. With careful selection of full Irish females they would be able to enjoy all the traits of top Angus cattle.
At this time I was going to the U.S. and Al kindly invited me to meet all three of them when I arrived in Denver for the stock show at the beginning of 1984. To me this was an exciting invitation because from my experience as a farming student in the U.S. in the early 50’s, I had the good luck to encounter several pioneering men in the livestock and horticultural sections of the U.S. farming industry. I feel that it was these type of men who helped make America the great country that it is today.
On arriving in Denver at the greatest cattle show in the world I met for the fist time this man I had been communicating with through the mail and on the phone for nearly a year. Al, a man who in spite of his Texas origin could easily be mistaken for a fellow Irish man. During our first meeting it was plain to see that this man had a life-time of experience in the livestock world and was a dedicated cattle man. He spoke with such knowledge and sincerity that I could see why he was considered a livestock specialist. We spoke at length and looked at some Angus cattle later on. That night at one of the several Denver hotels which are as big as an Irish village, I met the Woods Brothers, Bill and Jerry. We discussed the advantages of importing full blood Irish females. I pointed out that they are pioneering the way forward for the American Angus which would keep the breed to the forefront as producers of the world’s highest quality beef. This may have been slightly lost through some of the modern methods used to improve the breed. I told them that their visit to Ireland would include early rising, a lot of driving and looking at several herds as the Angus herds in Ireland are smaller. I said that we would have just a little time for socializing. We parted and arranged to meet again in Ireland in May.
I spent some considerable time inspecting herds throughout the length and breadth of Ireland and looking into the depth of pedigrees to ensure that we were getting the best of the old blood lines. It was necessary to do this as it would have been impossible to cover this vast area in the week that they would be in Ireland.
No sooner had I completed the job than I received a phone call to say that my three visitors would be in Shannon Airport in two days time. Together with Peter Ireton I collected them at 8:00 a.m. and suggested that they take a sleep for a few hours. However, they insisted on getting on with the job straight away and after a hearty Irish breakfast we set forth on the first day of selecting. These three Americans were encountering for the first time some of the hazards of Irish life including driving on very narrow roads and also on the “wrong” side. As we rounded the first bend I could feel the floor under the passenger seat being pressed hard by Bill Woods while Peter comforted Al and Jerry in the back who were desperately hanging onto doors and seats. When we were on the straight again, I heard for the first time that Maurer expression “would you like to take another run at it”. This sentence seemed to become the catch phrase for the rest of our tour. Within a short time we were looking
at the first of the Angus and we kept up the pace until very late that evening. Our guests must have been very tired at that stage as they had not slept at all the previous night while flying. We decided to call it a day when a sleepy Al Maurer asked “does it ever get dark here at night?” Each day followed the same pattern for three days and eventually we decided to slow down the pace when Bill said he would like to look at some ancient Irish castles. That evening we went to Bunratty Castle in Co. Clare for a medieval banquet.
After some more days visiting herds and making selections we decided that our job was complete and it was time to show these cattle men a little more of Irish social life. No trip to Ireland would be complete without a Race meeting and our friends had the usual flutter on the horses and were lucky enough to see them first pass the winning post. After the races a large party of friends and American cattle men descended on a local hostelry for a meal and some Guinness. This party brought their visit to Ireland to an end and I have no hesitation in saying that they purchased the best full Irish Angus available. One small disappointment was that a cow which they had purchased, an animal which bred the Champion of Perth, Scotland, was unable to make the shipment at this time. We hope to have her on a shipment in 1985, A consolation was that her daughter went this time and she is truly a worthy representative of the family. I will conclude by thanking the Woods Brothers and Al Maurer on behalf of all the Irish breeders for honouring us by selecting this group of Irish cattle.
Best regards for the present.
1 August, 1984