The first outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) recorded in Ireland since 1941 was successfully eliminated due to four main factors, as follows: – the willingness of the farmers in Cooley to sacrifice themselves in the national interest; – decisive action was taken rapidly once the first outbreak was declared; – geographical location of the Meigh and Proleek outbreaks which enabled the authorities to effectively seal off and regionalise the area, thus protecting exports from the rest of the country; – national awareness and willingness at all levels, from Government to the general public, to take whatever action was necessary to keep FMD out of Ireland. The author recounts the story, from the perspective of a farmer, of the outbreak of FMD that occurred in Ireland in 2001, from the first confirmed case in Meigh, County Armagh, through Proleek and the cull, into dealing with the aftermath in terms of compensation payments, premia payments, the evolving human tragedy and lessons learned. Major policy issues must be addressed at both a national and European Union level to prevent outbreaks of FMD in Europe in the future. At a national level, the dual animal health status between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland must not be allowed to re-emerge. Some regulation loopholes allowed FMD to enter Ireland. The Government of Ireland handled the initial FMD crisis very well, with the co-operation of farmers and the public in general.