Kenny puts the sods behind him and ploughs ahead
The big contest was the Senior Reversible Plough. Inda was fascinated. Any tips on reversing gratefully received. He could pass them on to James Reilly, who doesn’t come programmed with that particular gear.
There wasn’t much time for the Taoiseach to visit many of the stands. He missed out, for the ploughing festival is a joy.
The livestock section is a must-see.
We earwigged on an intense conversation between two women in one of the cattle sheds. They were leaning on a pen, looking over a pair of contented-looking heifers.
“They were lovely, Maureen, but as soon as I looked at them, I knew. I said: those boots will never fit my calves. My calves are huge.” Did she mean the two heifers? Truly, it’s amazing what you can buy at the Ploughing Championships.
Enormous animal, the Parthenaise cow. (“Light-boned, double muscle.”) Buttocks on their buttocks.
You could see how footwear might be a problem.
Dear God, the smell of silage in the early morning was crucifying. Mixed in with the aroma of frying burgers at the stall across the way, it was enough to make you faint.
The Parthenaise cattle people were running a raffle. A fiver put you in the draw for two frozen embryo. We passed.
Because down the way, at the Aberdeen Angus, they were selling “matrons”. What’s a matron? “How can I say it. She’s been around the block once or twice.” They had a raffle for frozen embryo too, along with frozen semen.
All the breeds had a prize draw. The Irish Belgian Blue society raised the bar. They were raffling an animal, but a banner across their shed enticed a lot of customers. “Win this building!” The sheep aren’t half as glamorous as the cows. But their owners are passionate about them. A Border Leicester was getting a lot of attention. It had long rabbit ears, which the children loved.
“If you breed the Leicester with the West of Ireland Scotch – they’re the horny little ones – you get something like that speckledy-headed one over there” explained a breeder. “Then you put a terminal sire on one and you can breed fat lambs.” James Groake of Stradbally Farm Services was demonstrating the Rolls Royce of electric fences by means of two electrodes and a potato. Farmers stood, spellbound by the continuous crack of the electric current as it fried the potato. “It’s to show the power of the fences. But its pulse energy, so it wouldn’t kill you.”
Fianna Fáil was offering free tea and coffee and the chance to win a hamper.
Fine Gael had Wexford strawberries and the chance to win three meals for two in the Dáil restaurant.
Enda paid a visit, then went to the SuperValu tent where he pretended to cook a stirfry. “I’ve burnt every pan that ever came into the house.” Every second person in the crowd seemed to be talking into a mobile phone.
It’s amazing what you overhear. “Well, I think the best thing is to forge the signature...” one woman was saying. “Have you a number for Marty Morrissey?” asked a man with a stick.
Inda was at home here. Doing what he does best – high-fiving, hugging, smiling. A natural.
He’s a great front-of-house man. But he’s a difficult field to plough after that.