Friday 30 September 2016

The purists who still harness the age-old skills of horse ploughing

Siobhán English

Published 22/09/2015 | 02:30

Competitors on the final day of the 2014 National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska, Co. Laois.
Pic:Mark Condren
25.9.2014
Competitors on the final day of the 2014 National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska, Co. Laois. Pic:Mark Condren 25.9.2014

Horse ploughing may no longer play a part in the day-to-day running of a modern farm, but it is still a special feature of the National Ploughing Championships and each year a large audience gather to see these work horses in action.

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Three special classes for horses are among the 24 competitions in total which will be contested by over 320 ploughing enthusiasts over the next three days.

Highlights on the opening day include the Intermediate Conventional Plough and Intermediate Reversible Plough. The vintage classes are always popular too and this year there are 14 entered for the Vintage 2 Furrow Trailer Plough, with 12 lining up for the Vintage Single Furrow Mounted Plough class the following day. All vintage classes are confined to pre-1958 tractors.

Talent

While there will be a raft of new talent across the board this year, Ger Collins is one who will not be back to defend his crown in the Under 40 Horse Plough class.

However, among the seven entered is David King, Jer Delaney and Patrick Commane, all of whom placed in the top five last year.

A stalwart of the championships for over a decade, Delaney placed third last year with his pair of Irish Draught geldings.

Defending champion Gerard Reilly from Galway is among 16 entered for the Senior Horse Plough class on Wednesday, while another 2014 winner, Tim Lawlor, will take on 16 rivals in the Special Horse Plough class on Thursday.

Other highlights on the final day include the Loy Digging for Seniors, Juniors, Ladies, Under 25 and Under 21.

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