Two Scottish Highland Heifers, straight from the royal herd at Balmoral Castle, have arrived in the village of Holycross where they were greeted by the Quinn family.
Fresh from the possession of Queen Elizabeth and the late Prince Philip, the two heifers are now owned by Holycross’ Philip and Liz (Quinn), who have the privilege of being chosen to preserve the animals – the royal family sells a lot rarely any of their stock so letting two of the eight arrive in Ireland is a big deal.
“We bought two Scottish Highland Heifers from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. They arrived from Balmoral Castle on Monday morning and that is very special for us as they are the first Balmoral heifers to come to Ireland, ”Liz Quinn told The Tipperary Star.
“A total of eight came into the country and we are lucky enough to get two of them. We already have three Scottish Highland cows, two calves and a bull – all purebred and registered with the Scottish Highland Society.
“We hope to breed from our two new Balmoral heifers. They are the most peaceful, docile animals and they are familiar to many holycross hikers walking around our field here.
Above: Isla and Dubh in their new home in Holycross
“The calves are particularly friendly and love scratching their necks and the cows are very fond of bread and love to be fed by hand. The breed is quite small, has very short legs, and they have huge horns that must be left on them as this is their cooling system. They have very thick skins and long coats that give them excellent insulation – they really are made for the Highlands.
“Her fringes, known as dossan, are very long and often cover a large part of her face. A flock of them is called a fold, ”said Liz.
There was tremendous excitement in the Quinn household over the weekend as they awaited their royal arrival with Liz and Philip’s sons Rory and Will and daughters Kate and Aobh, all of whom played very active roles in looking after the animals and the many other projects on the island Go to their base just across from the historic Holycross Abbey – Philip and Liz are renowned artisans and their work can be seen across the country in a variety of projects including stone carving, wood carving, stone wall construction, restoration, repair, wickerwork and much more besides.
The two Scottish Highlanders of the Quinns are Dubh and Isla, while two young calves were named Hayes (after their great friend the late Johnny Hayes) and Lir when a line of swans flew overhead and made a loud noise at the birth of the calf did. The hope is to increase the number of newcomers, even if the royal bloodline helps in terms of animal worth.
You will be pampered with lots of fresh grass from the lush pastures of Tipperary and will also be fed with a course and some hay. The animals are considered excellent for biodiversity and are light on the ground, reducing the damage normally associated with heavier animals.
“As you can probably see, these animals are our pride and joy and everyone who has come into contact with them here has been completely enchanted,” said Liz.