This year’s County Roscommon Ploughing Championships were launched on Wednesday, 27th of March at the impressive facilities of Cuisle Holiday Centre in Donamon. This year’s event will take place on the Hanley family lands at Kilbegnet in Creggs.
At the recent launch, the event’s main sponsors. Ward & Burke, as well as the many associated sponsors, local businesses and families, were thanked for their continued support. The launch had started with a minute’s silence for Rose Beirne who sadly passed away earlier that day.
Tom Tighe, Roscommon Ploughing Association Chairman, welcomed everyone to the launch and said that the annual Ploughing Championships came at a time when there was uncertainty in the Irish agricultural sector.
“Agriculture is going through a testing time and never more so with Brexit. They seem to voting on what to vote for in the UK at the moment. Hopefully it won’t come to tariffs being put on Irish beef and hopefully we don’t have a hard border,” he said.
Mr. Tighe said that some of those involved in agriculture would remember the difficulties posed by border checks.
He said: “I remember we were stopped one night and we were asked where we were going. We said ‘Strokestown’ and he asked ‘Is that Strokestown in Co. Killarney?’”
On a more positive note, Mr. Tighe said that it had been “one of the mildest winters ever” and very positive in terms of fodder.
He added that the ageing profile of farmers was something that had been discussed quite a lot in the media and that it was up to those present to encourage younger farmers and those starting out in the sector.
This year’s championaships will take place on the lands of the Hanleys in Kilbegnet and the Roscommon association’s PRO John Hanley was looking forward to welcoming visitors this Sunday, having hosted the International Sheepdog Trials in 2014.
“This is not just John Hanley welcoming everyone, this is the Hanley family,” he said.
“What a community we have here. I reckon rural Ireland is alive and kicking and that’s (down to) the people that’s in it. Looking down here tonight (at the big attendance), that’s community spirit!”
Mr. Hanley said that when the idea of hosting the event was put to his family, their response was ‘Why not? It’s an honour that we were asked to host it’.
He thanked the ploughing championships’ many sponsors, saying the show couldn’t go on without them. He also paid special tribute to Ward & Burke Construction, who are the event’s main sponsors.
“From humble beginnings we have an international company employing the guts of 1,000 people in Ireland, the UK and the US. Ward & Burke spare nothing in the community and are a credit to our parish,” he said.
He concluded with a wish for good weather this weekend and said that once the weather was on the side of the organisers, the event would be a success.
Con McGarry will be at the ploughing once again with his annual sheepdog demonstrations.
“It must be the 20th year or thereabouts running the sheepdog trials. It always brings a lot of interested people out on the day. There’s a lot of enjoyment seeing what the dogs can do,” he said.
Mena Dohery of Roscommon Leader Partnership said that there would be some very interested spectators at this year’s event.
“We are working with 20 Syrian families and some of them will come along and showcase their arts and crafts at the ploughing.
“Where would we be without the community of rural Ireland? Theses Syrian families want to be part of it and hopefully local people can come and see their talents,” she said. Gerry Browne will once again run the arts and crafts village this Sunday.
Roscommon’s National Ploughing Association representative, Padraig Nolan, had high praise for the standard of stewarding in the county.
“We supply the National Ploughing Championships with stewards and supervisors. We supply two head supervisors which is a great honour”.
Mr. Nolan said that this year’s national ploughing would take place in Carlow and that the midlands counties were the best option when it came to hosting the event.
Tom Tighe brought the official speeches to a close and said the committee looked forward to welcoming 50-60 competitors from across the country and from Northern Ireland to Creggs on Sunday.