Downpours, decorated eggs and jumping dogs at Tullamore Show

More than 50,000 attend the event

Getting the cattle home was the only logistical problem facing the buyers of two cattle at the launch of Ireland’s first online livestock auction at yesterday’s Tullamore Show.

Getting the cattle home was the only logistical problem facing the buyers of two cattle at the launch of Ireland’s first online livestock auction at yesterday’s Tullamore Show.

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 01:00

Every interest was catered for at the Tullamore Show yesterday and the more obscure, the better. Anyone for a bout of sheaf-tossing or log-pulling? The showgrounds in the Butterfield Estate were the place to be.

If you had a fetching pin cushion you wanted to show off, there was a competition for that. (Class 811: Most Attractive Pin Cushion.) If you were a bullock with no permanent teeth, then you were in luck as Class 240 was specifically aimed at you.

Class 818 was a curious one: Best Decorated Egg, hard- boiled adults. On further inspection, however, it emerged that the class was not confined to egg-decorating criminals.

Glamorous grannies strutted their stuff on the main stage, dogs jumped over small fences and Japanese Quail snuggled up to each other in their cage over in the rare breeds section. “No, we’re not buying a quail. How would we get it home?” cried one rattled mother as a child whispered in her ear. But whatever about getting a quail into a car, the African pygmy goats and llamas posed a greater logistical problem.

Getting cattle home was the only logistical problem facing the buyers of two cattle at the launch of Ireland’s first online livestock auction at the show. Livestock-Live.com is like Ebay for cattle. There are no shoes but there could be hay for sale soon.

Two Limousin X cattle went under the virtual hammer at its first auction, with screens at the event to show farmers how they can view, buy and sell stock without leaving their armchairs. The cattle started at €1 each yesterday morning and were sold for €918 and €826 by 4pm.

Money must be paid into website’s account when a bid is made, to eliminate the “tyre-kickers” explained the site’s founder Brendan Hannigan.

He set up the initiative in the UK earlier this year and said €500,000 worth of livestock had already been bought and sold through the platform. Up to €2.5 billion worth of cattle are sold in Ireland every year, though it won’t be music to the ears of mart operators to hear he is planning to take a chunk of that business.

The auction rolled on as Tullamore’s 1,000 classes and competitions were in full swing. It is the national livestock show and more than 1,800 competitors take part in the cattle classes. Tullamore hosts the biggest one-day agricultural show in the State and attracted more than 50,000 visitors yesterday. Not for the first time, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney suggested looking at a two-day option when he opened the show.

Mr Coveney has been dubbed the minister for farmers and fighting since he added defence to his portfolio in the reshuffle. There had been rumours he might get the plum foreign affairs job but that surely was not on the minds of the Tullamore Town Band when they played the Promotion March to introduce him.

Hordes of people ran towards the marquee when he stood up to speak but they were merely trying to escape yet another downpour. Nevertheless, they stayed to listen to his thoughts on the Russian ban on EU food products and the struggle facing beef finishers. Rain has forced the cancellation of Tullamore Show more than once but since the organisers moved to a new site, the show has gone on.

As the heavens opened even wider, two local clergy men stood up to bless the show and pray for a blue sky. And sure enough, the sun broke through not long after the exhortations.