The Earl of Rosse sells one of the largest cattle herds in the country at Birr Castle, County Offaly.

Birr Castle, home to the Parsons family since the seventeenth century and a famous nineteenth century telescope has up to recently also had a working dairy farm. Times have changed however. The land has been leased and the telescope is being restored, and today the estate's herd of approximately two hundred and fifty animals was sold.

The sale of the Friesian herd which includes dairy cows, in-calf heifers, weanlings and two bulls has attracted interest from all over the country, says Birr auctioneer John Ryan,

We had a very busy week answering calls from all over Ireland, a lot even from the North.

A wet day was blamed for a slow start to bidding which took place on the estate, but even then prospective purchasers were still not happy, as one farmer tells RTÉ News,

Trade isn't wonderful anyway, you know, on account of the BSE and the milk quota situation.

The sale will finance the refurbishment of the dairy at Birr Castle Demense explains Brendan Parsons, Seventh Earl of Rosse,

Make it a new dairy...fully equipped to face the needs of the next century.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 22 November 1996. The reporter is Ciaran Mullooly.