Standing ovation for Anna May McHugh
Published 27/05/2015 | 02:30
She claimed that she was just a small cog in the machine that is the National Ploughing Championships, but in the same breath admitted that she made the "wheel go faster".
It was a fitting acknowledgement by the National Ploughing Association's (NPA) CEO, Anna May McHugh, on the night that she was awarded the Zurich Farming Independent Lifetime Achievement award at a glitzy event in Dublin last Friday.
To a standing ovation, the Laois woman, accepted the award from ICMSA president, John Comer.
"They say that the way you know a really great celebrity is that they're known immediately by their first name: Bono, Madonna, and Barack. That has to be true because everyone I know immediately recognises whom I'm talking about if I mention Anna May," Mr Comer told the 250 attendees at the ceremony.
The fifth of eight children raised on a farm at Clonpierce close to the Kildare border, the award acknowledged the huge achievement by Mrs McHugh in turning the Ploughing Championships from a rural day out into one of the world's biggest agricultural shows.
The three-day extravaganza set new attendance records last year, with 270,000 punters descending on the small Laois village of Ratheniska.
The championships return to Ratheniska this year, with speculation mounting it will be hosted on a 700ac site near Tullamore in 2016.
A UCD study estimated that the event was worth close to €34m for the local economy. While the run-up to the Ploughing demands 70-hour weeks from Mrs McHugh - who is in her seventies -she also finds the time for many other voluntary efforts, including the renowned Ballylinan Passion play, along with travelling to ploughing competitions and events throughout the country.