The FF Senator competing at the Ploughing Championships

For 34 of the past 35 years, Paul Daly has been on the Westmeath team for the event

Senator Paul Daly with his partner, Bernie McCarthy, who was also part of the Westmeath team at this year’s National Ploughing Championships. Photograph: Thomas Gibbons

Senator Paul Daly with his partner, Bernie McCarthy, who was also part of the Westmeath team at this year’s National Ploughing Championships. Photograph: Thomas Gibbons

 

Unlike many of his political peers, Westmeath Senator Paul Daly had more on his mind than pressing the flesh in Screggan.

For 34 out of the past 35 years, the Fianna Fáiler has been on the Westmeath team at the National Ploughing Championships. He missed out on the 1989 competition as he was in Australia, but in 1990 claimed the Junior Conventional Plough Class.

Proud to be the only serving member of the Oireachtas to represent his county at the championships, he was in action this week in the junior class.

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He said standards have risen significantly since he first competed. “My family was always involved in the ploughing. My father ploughed before me and I’ve been involved in it from when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.”

A member of the Agricultural Panel since 2016 and a farmer all his life, Mr Daly spent Tuesday in the Fianna Fáil tent meeting farmers.

“It’s been a lot worse than people outside farming realise. . . I was foddering hay to cattle in the month of July this year; hay that is meant to be for next winter but I had to give it because the grass wasn’t growing.

“If we get any sort of a severe winter at all, the fodder deficit will be unreal,” Mr Daly said.

“One of the options that people who didn’t have enough fodder would have had in the past was to sell some cattle but the market has dried up enormously. A lot of the people who would traditionally buy cattle at this time of year to fatten them or finish them over the winter have realised if they have silage or forage there is more money to be made by them selling their forage to other farmers than actually buying cattle. The buyers are not there for people who want to sell. It’s the perfect storm. It all seems to have aligned in the one year.”

Mr Daly finished 10th out of 31 competitors in the competition.