Dillon, Michael (1922–92), agricultural journalist, broadcaster, and farmer, was born 5 May 1922 at Morehampton Rd, Donnybrook, Dublin, eldest son of two sons and three daughters of Thomas Dillon (qv), professor of chemistry at UCG, and Geraldine Dillon (née Plunkett). Brought up in Galway speaking fluent Irish, he was educated at Garbally College, Ballinasloe, and UCD, where he graduated with a degree in agriculture. In the mid 1940s he worked for McCullough's in Ballyboghil, Co. Dublin, a progressive dairy and tillage farm, before running a large hill farm that specialised in dairy produce. In the early 1950s he leased a farm at Corbally, Co. Kildare, where he brought an innovative approach to a wide range of farming ventures over the following four decades.
The farm at Corbally was in large measure a testing ground for the huge number of ideas that surfaced through his celebrated journalistic career in radio, television, and the press. In 1948 he joined Radio Éireann, where he gave a series of weekly talks that evolved into the ‘Farmers' forum’ discussion programme, and later presented ‘Field and farmhouse’ (1955–69). His television career blossomed through ‘Mart and market’ where his bald pate made him an immediately recognisable figure and drew him the nickname ‘Kowjack’, inspired by the popular television detective series ‘Kojak’. When the Farmers' Journal was revitalised (1951) he became joint editor for a time, before specialising in coverage of farm mechanisation and the livestock market. He continued to write a weekly column for the Farmers' Journal until his death, and also wrote a daily agricultural column for the Irish Times from the late 1970s, where he brought farming matters to the attention of a wider public by writing about complex issues in a straightforward, entertaining manner. He won several journalism awards, as well as the award of honorary life membership of the RDS.
A fine raconteur and ballad singer, he had a deep interest in literature and one of his sisters was the novelist Eilís Dillon (qv). His mother Geraldine was the younger sister of the executed 1916 leader Joseph Mary Plunkett (qv), while his father was a member of the IRB and had served for a time as secretary to Arthur Griffith (qv). He married (1950) Norah Curran, who wrote a weekly column for the Irish Times, ‘The diary of a farmer's wife’, under the pseudonym ‘Anne Kennedy’; they had two sons and three daughters. After a short illness, he died 23 June 1992 before he had completed his intended history of the Irish livestock trade from medieval times.