Masters of the plough
Eamonn Treacy is Denmark-bound to defend his world ploughing title
Published 22/09/2015 | 02:30
World Champion ploughman Eamonn Treacy will have a bounce in his step when he travels to Denmark this week to defend his title.
In previous years, the father-of-three made the long journeys with a niggling doubt in the back of his mind over whether he would ever win the coveted title.
His father, John, had been in the difficult position of being six times runner-up in the World Championship, while Eamonn had come close on more than one occasion.
"I was knocking on the door for a few years. Last year the door finally opened," says the man from Garryhill in Co Carlow of his victory in France last year after competing in every championship since 1998, bar one when his wife Ailish went into labour as he was headed for the ferry.
"This thing creeps into your head, are you ever going to win it. Maybe you're never going to do it," he says, explaining the land in France meant every ploughman's plot was equal and no one was handed an unfair advantage.
"It was a totally equal contest plus the fact that I was up against five former world champions as well. It was unusual to be up against that many. To win in a field like that was special.
"I suppose that monkey is off my back now. I have won it and the pressure is off I suppose," he laughs. "Having said that it will be all guns blazing to defend it. I suppose my point is I have it proven. My name is on the trophy."
The National Ploughing Championships may have evolved to showcase a lot more than ploughing, yet the plough is still at the core of the event with scores of competitors to be spotted in action on the day.
But it will be a tight turnaround for both Eamon and John Whelan who won't have a second to spare after they finish competing this week before getting their tractors ready for the voyage to Denmark on Thursday.
"We have to be in Dublin Port for 9pm that night to sale to Denmark," with team manager Joe Slattery from Tipperary, judge Brian Mahon from Offaly and World Ploughing board member Anna May McHugh all joining them to contest the championships.
For the competitors putting their final touches to their ploughs, Eamonn says plenty of innovative engineering and 'tweaking' with different discs and implements goes into creating a customised match plough.
"The bodies I have on my plough were originally Kverneland but they have been altered and twisted - they are no longer a Kverneland body really," he says.
"Everyone sees the final product but they don't see the amount of times that you tried that before and it's wrong."
For those looking to pick up a few pointers, Eamonn says patience, a good eye, ability to adapt to different soil types and attention to detail all help to form a good ploughman.
"I'd be talking about changing the angle on a shear by maybe a degree or two degrees.
"People would say what difference would that make but it does make a difference," says Eamonn who uses a Kverneland plough and drives a Valtra A95.
However, he admits it is harder for young people now to get involved in competitive ploughing due to the cost and finding a suitable tractor.
"The suitable tractors are not on every farm," he says, adding narrow wheels are also required which also ups the cost.
"The A95 is a 95 horse power tractor. Say 15 years ago that was the average sized tractor on a farm.
Now the average sized tractor on a farm is gone up to 120hp," he says, adding that his eldest son Sean (23) has also started competing.