This is not the Curley family’s first Roscommon Ploughing Championships. In fact, the family from Carntleva in Four Roads hosted the return of the county championships following the Foot and Mouth Crisis of 2001. John Curley remembers that day very well.
“It was an extremely warm day on the 7th of April in 2002, it was 18 degrees and the land was very, very dry.
“There were lots of men, women and children and the children were rolling in the grass sunburnt, which was extremely unusual for the time of year!
“There was a huge display of trade stands, machinery, vintage, and lots of other arts and crafts as well on the day. It was a wonderful day to be at and it was an honour to be hosting it,” he told the Roscommon People earlier this week.
The organisers were forced to cancel the 2001 instalment of the popular event and while it was an inconvenience, John said the cancellation merely added to the build-up for 2002.
“We had all the preparations done so we had and then we had to pull it a couple of weeks beforehand but it gave all the more time to get another event in and all the more excited about it.
“There was a big build-up to it with the preparations for the following year and setting up all the marquees and the people with the loys making their ridges – that was something I hadn’t ever seen before!
“Gerry Browne had a garden on the day. (I thought)…it was unbelievable what could be produced from a very small piece of ground; potatoes, carrots, and all the veg lasted a long, long time and I was damn glad to have it! I continued on doing it right up until last year myself, there was huge interest in it on the day”.
Proving that hosting the Roscommon Ploughing Championships is a team effort, John’s son Paul will once again be on hand to help out following his sterling work in 2002.
“There was something for everyone in 2002, even bouncing castles and slides for children,” he said before hinting at some of the hard work that comes with hosting the event: “I was involved in every single bit of it, getting the gateways ready, putting down the sand, marking out the field”.
Looking ahead to this year’s event and the return of the Ploughing Championships to the Curleys’ land for the first time in 16 years, John was confident the venue would be a success yet again.
“The site is very suitable because it’s running by the main road and there’s an adjacent road running on the other side so there’s actually two sides of the field on the roadside.
“It’s extremely good dry land and very suitable for ploughing. There’s also ample parking and ample space which is very important for this type of event. The roads of course are very suitable for people coming to the event; it’s quite a central location.
“There was a massive crowd in 2002 and of course like everything else, weather is a major factor. For families to come along to an event like that you need a nice day and there are an awful lot of attractions for families who do come along on the day.
“This is a great lift for communities, it’s a parish and a county event where everyone gets behind the wheel and it’s a bit of a lift for the area,” he said.
On Sunday week the Roscommon Ploughing Championships will return to the lands of John and Mary Curley in Carntleva. While they can’t guarantee another warm day like April 7th 2002, they can guarantee another warm welcome for everyone attending the 2018 event.