Hoping to plough grandfather’s furrow with tractor that won world title
Charlie Keegan was Ireland’s first world ploughing champion in 1964
Charlie Keegan became Ireland’s first world ploughing champion 50 years ago and his grandson Michael has just tracked down the tractor that helped him to win the prize in Austria. He plans to restore it and bring it to the National Ploughing Championships in September. Now he’s searching for the plough that accompanied the tractor.
Michael, a sheep farmer from Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, says he was often told his grandfather was one of the first people to bring a world title of any sport back to Ireland. “Ronnie Delany won the Olympic title of course but I haven’t been able to establish if my grandfather was the first to win a world title. He was certainly one of the first. It was a huge, huge event at the time. When you think back to 1964 everyone probably had some connection to farming.”
When Charlie returned home from the championships, he was carried shoulder-high off the
aircraft with the Golden Plough trophy in his arms. A motorcade escorted him to Enniskerry and bonfires were lit on the roadside to greet the world champion. “It was a major event in this area and the tractor was even paraded through Dublin,” says Michael.
“Now we are in the process of looking for the plough. I’d imagine the original plough is long gone but I think I could get one of that type.” The original plough was a 1964 Kverneland Hydrein match special, made in Norway. “I have seen one or two of them on the internet in Norway and Sweden so I am looking over there. It would be great if there was one stuck under a ditch somewhere here but people probably wouldn’t know what it is.”
He had been looking for the original tractor, a 1964 green Deutz D40L, for years and was delighted to find it a few miles away on the farm of Derek Stringer in Kilcoole. On hearing of the family connection, Mr Stringer agreed to swap it for another tractor.
Now Mr Keegan can’t wait to get stuck into the restoration job. He is hoping to get sponsorship to help him restore the tractor and eventually the plough.
“The tractor is pretty rough but everything is there. There’s a lot of stuff that needs repairing, a few bearings gone, pumps need attention, but it’s all doable. The body work isn’t wonderful but again, it’s all there
“It means a lot to have the tractor back. He died 10 years ago but I remember sitting on it as a young boy with my grandfather. ”