Forget football fever -- farmers flocking to real field of dreams
Published 17/09/2011 | 05:00
WE ARE in the grip of All-Ireland football fever but farmers are training for their own championship match.
Eighty years ago, Denis Allen from Gorey put a challenge to his life-long friend, JJ Bergin from Athy.
Denis wanted to prove that Wexford had better ploughmen than Kildare -- and in 1931 that is exactly what he did, when his county won the first ever National Ploughing Championships.
Farmers came from all over and parked their bicycles at WK Hosie's field in Coursetown, just outside of Athy, for the event
Pictures from down the years show how farmers gathered in long trench-coats and hats at the end of World War Two in 1945 to see a young John Condron from Killemore, Killeigh, Co Offaly, win the minor All-Ireland championship.
Fast forward to the present day and truckloads of heavy machinery have been arriving in Cardenton, Co Kildare ahead of the 80th National Ploughing Championships which begins on Tuesday.
The technology has improved, the site has expanded, but the competition is as fierce as ever for the three-day event.
It will even see one former world champion ploughman, Martin Kehoe from Wexford, coming out of retirement.