Love Island’s Greg O’Shea creates bustle at the ploughing

With sunshine and music easy to mistake ploughing for music festival

Love Island winner Greg O’Shea at the Gra Island contest held in the National Dairy Council’s tent at the National Ploughing Championship. Photograph: Robbie Reynolds

Love Island winner Greg O’Shea at the Gra Island contest held in the National Dairy Council’s tent at the National Ploughing Championship. Photograph: Robbie Reynolds

 

It’s difficult to tell which event on the first day of the National Ploughing Championships created more bustle; the rush of girls trying to catch sight of Love Island winner Greg O’Shea or the farmers shouting at members of Bord Bia over beef prices.

With the sun shining down, and the music blaring, it was easy to mistake the event in Co Carlow as the newest Irish music festival.

The queues for the Heineken bar were rivalled only by the number of people trying to gain entrance to the venue that morning.

People attended in their thousands to bask in the warmth of the sun, and visit the various stalls.

O’Shea was there for the Gra Island contest held in the National Dairy Council’s tent.

Nicola and Thomas Meaney, from Carlow, arrived on the site with their two daughters because they decided “why not”.

“The schools are closed, it’s in the same county so we came down,” said Mr Meaney. “We’ve no interest in farming, the closest thing to a farm we’ve seen is the field near our house.”

“We went shopping, to the funfair, saw Derek Ryan and Richie Kavanagh play. I even have a designated driver,” he said while pointing to his wife. “What more could you want?”

The only reminder that farming was the true purpose of the event was the heavy machinery that lined the walkways, discussions around politics and, of course, the annual welly throwing competition.

The All-Ireland competition was a star attraction for eight-year-old Thady Ryan who was crowned the champion after throwing three wellies into a circle set out on the ground.

“It’s so much fun,” he said, before skipping off to find some crisps and ice-cream to celebrate his win.

Welly throwing

Welly throwing wasn’t the only competition afoot, with Kandle, the Kildare & Leighlin Catholic Diocese of Ireland, running a competition on the ploughing’s favourite prayer.

Attendees can pick one of five “classic” prayers as their favourite, but could also enter their own on the topic of sustainability. The winner will be crowned on Thursday.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil tents proved popular, if not for the free tea and coffee being poured out in vast quantities then for the shade from the blistering Carlow sun.

One man making a beeline past Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary for a free drinks counter was overheard saying: “We might as well get something out of them.”

Sheila Cronin from Killarney said she would not be taking free tea or coffee from Fianna Fáil as she exited the Fine Gael tent after hearing ministers of state Helen McEntee and Pat Breen address a packed venue.

“They’re my crowd. They have always been,” said Cronin.

Farmers were relaxing in the good weather too and enjoying the more “modernised” event this year.

Pat Brennan, standing next to his pal Jimmy Walsh from nearby Tullaroan, Co Kilkenny, said the highlights of the day were meeting Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune and seeing some of the farm machinery on display. Brennan spotted a power harrow – a type of drill – he liked.

“It’s great to be out meeting the friends and neighbours and seeing all the machinery,” said Brennan, who has been coming to “the ploughing” for 44 of its 88 years.

“It’s changed in a big way. It is very modernised this year.”