'Legend Mickey D' harvests some good vibes at festival walkabout
THE President made a beeline for a bunch of lads sitting like young crows along a railing and smilingly shook each hand in turn.
They nudged each other as he departed, impressed despite themselves. "Legend," reckoned one. "Hashtag Mickey D," agreed another, to the quiet mirth of An Uachtaran's entourage.
Just after noon, Michael D bounded out of his car, accompanied by his wife Sabina and joined the huge crowd at the Ploughing Championships. He had dressed most appropriately for the occasion, sporting a natty green tweed suit, unspoiled by wellies (well, there wasn't a drop of mud to be found on the bone-dry site in the townland of Ratheniska).
It was the opening day of this massive three-day celebration of all things rural and agricultural, and even though the skies over Laois remained resolutely grey, the overall mood among the organisers, exhibitors and farmers was cautiously sunny.
Situated in Stradbally, close to the location of the annual Electric Picnic music festival, the Ploughing may be less Franz Ferdinand and more Massey Ferguson, but the enthusiasm is immense.
And the site is immense too, stretching over 700 acres, including 150 acres of competitions, and it was to this part of the vast venue that Michael D headed first, making a quick inspection of the ruler-straight furrows and chatting to some of the competitors.
He was thoroughly enjoying himself. "It's a very great example of all the different strands of life in agriculture being drawn together," he said. And he explained that he gets about 150 invitations every week. "I've always had the Ploughing Championship near the top of my list, it's always been very important to me – the combination of one's mind and one's hands and the fact that you're doing something real," he said.
The President pointed out that he used to come early in the mornings to watch some of the livestock competitions. "It was the first time I saw a Charolais being dried with a hairdryer, and it did very well in the show," he laughed.