Dumb animals take to automatic milking with ease – now what about the rest of us?
Taoiseach Enda Kenny puts his foot in it at National Ploughing Championships
Taoiseach Enda Kenny visiting the National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson.
Scarcely 10 minutes at the ploughing and Enda Kenny had already put his foot in it. The photographers surged forward. “Lads, lads – keep away from the sod!” barked an official. A bit harsh on the Taoiseach, in fairness.
But we kept our distance.
When you look at the size of the tractors and the heavy ploughs with their steel chains, it’s astonishing how precise the ploughman must be when opening a seam and delicately turning the sod. Once that first straight incision is made in the grass, no foot can sully the freshly exposed soil.
The settling clay trickles into the slightest indentation when the plough sweeps back down the line. It could mean the difference between winning and losing when the slide rules come out.
Nobody steps on the sod.
Enda arrived in the upper field to a great welcome. He first met John Whelan from Wexford, reigning world champion and was allowed into the hallowed field for photographic purposes. “Nearer, nearer!” shouted the photographers. So Enda moved closer to the world champion’s freshly opened seam. He smiled for the cameras.
Suddenly, the big men in dungarees drew a sharp intake of breath. Some quickly turned their heads, as if they had just witnessed something they really didn’t want to see. For Enda had his foot in the furrow.
Oh, dear God.
It was like that awful moment in the Olympics when a dancing priest wearing a kilt pushed the marathon frontrunner off the course. Thankfully, the Taoiseach was not wearing his mountain climbing boots. He wore his normal black lace-ups.
Without a word, Enda daintily lifted an ankle and stepped clear.
Nothing was said.
We moved on to the horses.
Gerry King won his 11th All-Ireland senior title on Wednesday and he was out again yesterday with his two sons and their French-bred Comtois horses. Lovely animals, with flaxen manes and fringes. ”When I bought them, they didn’t know my line because they’re from France” he told Enda. “Everything went alright, but there was a wee bit of a language barrier for a while.”
Back on the showgrounds, the only thing he had to guard against was putting his foot in his mouth in the presence of the media.
At the Fine Gael tent, he had an adoring audience. He told them his government’s task is to sort out “as many of the running sores left behind by the previous administration” as is possible. Enda was besieged by young Fine Gael members as he moved through the throng. One them, David Gazeley (17) from Cleariestown in Wexford produced a copy of Enda Kenny – The Unlikely Taoiseach for him to sign.
Did he bring the book along specially? “No. I got it this morning for a euro from one of the newspaper shops.”