Tullamore Show ‘brings all of rural Ireland out’

Event drawing 60,000 has become one of the biggest on Irish agricultural calendar

 

More than 60,000 people attended this year’s Tullamore Show on a warm, dry day on Sunday that was far removed from the rain induced cancellations of 2007 and 2008.

Though the show in its current form was first held in 1991, Tullamore has a tradition of agricultural shows going as far back as the 1840s.

Now one of the biggest events in the Irish agricultural calendar, it was praised by Eddie Downey, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, as “an event that brings all of rural Ireland out”.

Established as a livestock show, the one-day event held over 250 acres of Butterfield Estate has evolved into a much bigger event that covers all aspects of rural life.

Livestock is still the show’s big draw, with hundreds of farmers bringing their best animals to compete for the coveted red first-place ribbons. Cattle can be entered in over 250 classes, with another 83 open to sheep.

Best-dressed dog

Ribbons are awarded in 996 classes, including knitting, photography, handwriting - and even best-dressed dog.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney was often stopped for advice on grant applications, thoughts on Government policy and for photos with smiling children. The main stand was full for his opening address.

In his speech, Mr Coveney stressed the importance of agricultural shows, saying they “allow farmers to meet their friends and fellow farmers and discuss the latest development in farming and agri-food business”.

He praised the agricultural sector’s role in economic growth and the number of young farmers joining the industry.

Falling dairy prices

He also cited the challenge of falling dairy prices for farmers, caused by a range of issues from declining demand internationally to increased supplies from other global producers.

“I think one in every five years you’ll have a bad year on price from price volatility. The challenge for us is to anticipate that.”

Mr Coveney said fixed price contracts for a portion of milk farmers and further flexibility from banks were important measures to pursue.

Speaking after the Minister’s speech, Mr Downey described Mr Coveney as a Minister who “knew the value of rural Ireland”, but called for ongoing support from the Government.

“When the economy in this country was in trouble, the Government looked to Irish agriculture to get them out of trouble. Now that the economy is recovering, we hope that the part rural Ireland played in the recovery won’t be forgotten.”

Cookery and catwalk

The fashion tent featured local designers, as well as a catwalk showing the latest styles. “I hope your mammy is in the crowd,” the announcer said to a male model in a tweed suit, “because there’s a woman here taking an awful lot of photos of you.”