Denis O’Keeffe

Denis O'Keeffe

Denis O’Keeffe’s grandfather emigrated from Tipperary in 1884 when he was 16. After farming in Kangaroo Valley and Brogers Creek and becoming increasingly involved in breeding and showing Illawarra shorthorns he founded Kiltankin AIS stud and dairy on prime land in Jaspers Brush. He married Martha Timbs in 1896 and thus began the O’Keeffe’s contribution to the improvement and breeding of the AIS breed in the Shoalhaven. The track to their farm is now O’Keeffes Lane.

Denis was born, grew and worked on the farm at Jaspers Brush where he raised, bred and milked Illawarra Shorthorns. In 1956 he and his parents started a new stud called Laurelgrove on their dry run and continued to breed, show and dairy. 

 Denis loved showing his beloved red cows at Berry and Nowra show. He showed cattle from a very young age, leading to a lifetime of showing and judging cattle and also produce.

Being a man of many talents, he also loved entering his woodwork, vegetables and delicious cakes in the pavilion. 

Denis had extraordinary talent with woodwork, metalwork and construction. He made prizes out of wood for the show raffle; he made the ticket boxes and goat pens at the Berry Show and designed, engineered and built the herringbone cattle ramp in Albany Street.

He had an innovative and clever brain and could engineer and build implements for the farm long before they came to market.

 At a field day around 1980 at Col Bowley’s farm all the big-name companies brought their latest sod seeding equipment to demonstrate the superiority of their product. When it came time for a demonstration, embarrassingly, they all blocked up with kikuyu after a few metres. Denis then demonstrated his sod seeder that he designed, engineered and built on his own between milkings and his machine went from one end of the paddock to the other with no blockages! All the sales reps took Denis’s ideas back to their companies and thanks to Denis O’Keeffe we now have the modern sod seeder which works today. Denis did not get a word of credit but that never worried him. 

Denis was always generous with his time and gave time and knowledge to his community. For many years he was a director on the board of the Berry Rural Co-op and President of the Berry branch of the NSW dairy farmers association. He was an active member of APEX and a committee and life member of the Berry Show Society.

Denis married Marilyn in 2002 and they enjoyed travelling together around the world. Denis passed in 2020 and is sadly missed.

Denis was an industrious and innovative man who loved the land, his cattle and was greatly respected and loved in his community. 

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