The ‘hurl’ or ‘hurley’ debate makes it to the Tullamore Show

CCTV camera systems prove popular with security conscious farmers

The Tullamore Show & FBD National Livestock Show . Photograph Nick Bradshaw

The Tullamore Show & FBD National Livestock Show . Photograph Nick Bradshaw


When the idea for a show that would celebrate all aspects of country life was first discussed more than 26 years ago in Tullamore, the original team knew there was one local woman who would be perfect for co-ordinating the fashion section.

That woman was Carmel Duffy, who was then a stalwart of many charity shows. She brought all her passion, knowledge and love of the area to the Fashion Tent.

She is justifiably proud that many of the original sponsors have remained with them in the intervening 26 years. Carmel is the beaming face who greets everyone throughout the show grounds as she and her team go in search of the Best Dressed Woman (and Best Dressed Man), Glamorous Granny, Bonny Baby, Traditional Farmer. Sometimes arms have to be twisted.

It is testament to the appeal of the show, the quality of the prizes and Carmel’s charm that many of the participants return year after year.

This year the main topics of conversation at the show were beef and the weather while the burning question, thanks to a Letter to the Editor in The Irish Times, was “hurl” or “hurley”.


Ever eager to provide answers to such important topics, The Irish Times conducted a detailed survey among hurl or hurley manufacturers that were among the 700 shops, displays and exhibits at Tullamore Show.

Four-year-old Darragh Ryan from Cadamstown, Co Offaly, was buying his first hurley from Canning Hurleys. Accompanied by his aunt Margaret, he revealed that he will start school in September and he plans to play for Offaly some day.

Former Galway hurling All Star Ollie Canning was of the opinion that hurley was the correct term, but he was flexible on the issue as was his brother Ivan, who sold the hurley to Darragh.

Liam Mockler of Cúl Sliotars from Tipperary was also in favour of hurley, but acknowledged that it was probably a regional issue.

TJ Larkin was hedging his bets. The sign on their tent read TJ Larkin Hurls, Hurley Manufacturer. The Killimor, Galway, native has a full-time staff of three making the ash camán. His family has been involved in the manufacture of hurleys since the founding of the GAA, he proudly revealed.

All-Ireland winner Sean O’Meara from Shinrone, Co Offaly, who sells sliotars, was also in agreement that the word was hurley, but he was prepared to be magnanimous and he will respond to either term. As for the sliotar market — it’s booming he says, estimating that there are over one million sliotars sold around the country every year.

Great concern

An issue of great concern for the farming community – security – was reflected in the number of exhibitors selling security cameras, CCTV, and video doorbells. Michael Kavanagh from Clontarf said there has been a huge response also to the Calving Camera Kits which offer 24 hour coverage connected to the farmer’s phone or computer.

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen, a local and a familiar face at shows in the past was also on people’s minds with numerous speakers at the official opening, including Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, extending best wishes for a speedy recovery via his brother Barry, who was in attendance.

Trade stands covering more than 60 acres included farm machinery, agricultural and industrial supplies, cars, garden, home and leisure, food, crafts, tourism and travel, fashion and accessories, not to mention new products to the market.

Celebrity chef Nevin Maguire was on hand in the Bord Bia tent for a number of cookery demonstrations while the Garda Band had great difficulty in leaving the stage such was their popularity. Peace was restored and a compromise reached when they played a lively encore.

By mid afternoon the rain had held off and the organisers gave thanks to the weather gods for another successful show. The planning for next year will commence next week and Carmel will be in the thick of it, again.