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Veterinary Laboratory Service

Our goal is to cooperate with our customers in achieving the highest possible standards of animal health and welfare in Ireland.

The objectives of The Veterinary Laboratory Service are to implement Department of Agriculture and Food (DAF) policy in respect of animal health and welfare and veterinary public health. This is done through

  • providing the state veterinary service with the technical support and diagnostic capability in respect of statutory and regulatory animal disease eradication and control programmes
  • assisting the development and implementation of plans for the prevention and control of such diseases
  • providing an efficient laboratory diagnostic service to the livestock industry through practising veterinary surgeons
  • providing a consultancy service when required, to complement laboratory diagnosis and further assist disease investigations
  • monitoring and collating information on diseases at national level
  • providing expert advice and education on disease diagnosis and control to veterinary practitioners, public authorities, private organisations, agriculturalists and stock owners
  • identifying diseases with zoonotic implications and collaborating with public health specialists and the Food Safety Authority
  • Initiating and carrying out research and development

Central Meat Control Laboratory (CMCL)

Is to assist the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development in implementing its' Public Health Protection Service by ensuring an effective independent food monitoring and compliance support testing programme for the meat industry currently worth in excess of €6,350 million annually from a centre of excellence in order to comply with current single market conditions under Irish and EU Legislation.

The CMCL is the national reference laboratory for the analysis of a range of residue groups in meat. It also functions as a routine field laboratory with a high through put of samples.

Historically the Veterinary Laboratory Service (VLS) can trace its origins to 1896 when the first Laboratory was established in Hoey's Court near Dublin Castle, where it was responsible for ensuring the implementation of uniform standards for the diagnosis of Swine Fever and thus hasten its eradication. It later moved to Merrion Lane c.1900.

The next move was to a new custom built laboratory, which opened in Thorndale off Collins Avenue in 1924, with the main purpose of producing vaccines for animal disease control. It was moved to Abbotstown on the Holmpatrick Estate near Blanchardstown in 1960. The former Thorndale Laboratory was retained and opened as the Brucellosis Laboratory in 1967 in association with the then recently initiated eradication scheme.

New Regional Veterinary Laboratories were opened in:

  • Sligo (1967)
  • Cork (1969)
  • Athlone (1970)
  • Limerick (1970)
  • Kilkenny (1973)
  • Abbotstown (1976)
  • Cork Brucellosis Laboratory (1982)
  • Central Meat Control Laboratory (1985).

The Central Veterinary Research Laboratory and the Central Meat Control Laboratory were relocated to their present location in the Department's Agriculture Laboratories Complex on the Backweston Campus, Stacummy Lane, Celbridge, Co. Kildare during the latter part of 2006 and early 2007.

The Veterinary Laboratory Service

The veterinary laboratory service (VLS) therefore comprises the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) and the Meat Control Laboratory at Abbotstown in Dublin; The Brucellosis Laboratory in Cork and six stand alone multidisciplinary Regional Veterinary Laboratories located in Athlone, Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny, Limerick and Sligo.

Central Veterinary Research Laboratory

The Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) comprises three divisions; Bacteriology/Parasitology, Virology and Pathology. In addition to providing a routine diagnostic service, each division operates a number of specific surveillance programmes for endemic, emerging and exotic diseases. The CVRL collaborates in a number of research projects with other research institutions both nationally and internationally. The CVRL is recognised by the EU as the Reference Laboratory in Ireland for a number of diseases- including Salmonellosis, Newcastle disease, Avian influenza, Classical Swine Fever, African Horse Sickness and Aujeszky's disease.

In this role the CVRL validates the proficiency of private laboratories testing procedures. Tests samples collected for disease surveillance or trade purposes as required under various EU directives or national legislation. It also participates in international proficiency testing for designated diseases.

Veterinary Laboratory Services

Veterinary Laboratory Diagnostic

Diagnostic Tests; A wide spectrum of these tests are provided which facilitate the clinician in the field to introduce appropriate treatment and control measures, and to differentiate endemic diseases from the more serious exotic ones. It also helps to ensure animals for food are healthy and in particular free from zoonotic diseases.

Statutory Import/Export Tests are provided to permit the safe trans. national movement of animals and to meet trade requirements and to comply with trading codes of practice and meet customer requirements. The laboratory is the recognised approved laboratory for these purposes.

Pre movement tests: are provided to facilitate inter and intra-community trade in accordance with statutory requirements. The laboratory provides most of the specific tests required for such movements. Animals designated to go to high health status farms require to pass pre-movement tests for designated diseases to meet EU and national legislation requirements. Purchasers also often require such tests to meet their own requirements.

Services & Testing

Surveillance Testing

Surveillance testing is designed to give early warning of the occurrence of an exotic disease so that control measures may be implemented. EU legislation also requires that the country prove that it is free from certain diseases. The most recent surveillance testing was for Foot and Mouth disease.

Disease Monitoring

Monitoring of existing diseases is carried out to determine if there is a change in incidence or if the disease is changing its level of virulence or its presenting signs. In conjunction with veterinary practitioners with whom the laboratory has established a close working relationship, extensive information is available on disease occurrence and any changes in disease manifestation which may occur.

Investigation of Environmental animal Heath Problems

Investigations have been carried out in cases of suspected environmental pollution affecting animal health, which may be ascribed to industrial pollution or mining etc.


Research is continual into improved methods of identifying disease causing organisms and identifying strains such as Tuberculosis, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and Porcine Reproductive respiratory Syndrome. A major area of research is in the area of diseases of animals, which can also cause disease in man (Zoonoses)

Who are our Clients?

Our main clients are the State Veterinary Service and the Livestock industries through their practicing veterinary surgeons.

How to reach us

Central Veterinary Research Laboratory
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Laboratories Complex
Backweston Campus
Stacummy Lane
Co. Kildare
Tel +353-1-6157106
Fax +353-1-6157199

Bacteriology Division
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Laboratories Complex
Backweston Campus
Stacummy Lane
Co. Kildare
Tel/Fax -353-1-6157116

Pathology Division
Clinical Pathology 
Backweston Campus
Co. Kildare
Tel -353-1-6157200
Fax -353-1-6157199.

Pathology Division
Backweston Campus
Co. Kildare
Tel -353-1-6157168
Fax -353-1-01-6157226

Pathology Division
RVL Dublin
Backweston Campus
Co. Kildare
Tel +353-1-6157115
Fax +353-1-6157199

Central Meat Control Laboratory
Dublin 15

Regional Laboratories

RVL Athlone
Co Westmeath
Tel +353-090-6475514
Fax +353-090-6475215

RVL Cork
Model Farm Road
Cork 4
Tel +353-21-4819970
Fax +353-21-4546153

RVL Dublin
Backweston Campus
Co. Kildare
Tel +353-1-6157115
Fax +353-1-6157199

RVL Kilkenny
Hebron Road
Tel +353-056-7721688
Fax +353-056-7764741

RVL Limerick
Tel +353-061-452911
Fax +353-061-451849

RVL Sligo
Fawcett's Bridge
Co. Sligo
Tel +353-071-9142191
Fax +353-071-9145900

Blood Testing Laboratory (Brucellosis)
Model Farm Road
Tel +353 21 4819900
Fax +353 21 4545694