Back on the farm - 'Late Late Show' lamb Dynamo not bothered by moment in spotlight
Published 27/01/2016 | 02:30
TJ Gormley was back in his sheep shed just outside Tuam at 3am last Saturday morning. It was business as usual in the maternity ward where his 100-ewe pedigree Beltex flock are in the middle of early spring lambing.
It was a far cry from the bright lights of the 'Late Late Show' studio in Donnybrook a few hours before when he was unveiling his prototype lamb carousel, with the help of his able assistant Dynamo the lamb, to a bewildered audience.
The social media storm that followed largely bypassed TJ (65), who has never had a Twitter or Facebook account in his life. The first inkling that his appearance in front of 600,000 viewers on Friday had caused a stir was when he met fellow sheep farmers at a meeting on Monday night.
"He came home from that meeting with a waiting list for at least 30 of them," said TJ's daughter, Ursula, who works with her dad in the family sheep-tagging business.
And what of the poor 'Late Late' lamb that so many agonised over online in recent days?
"Dynamo is grand. Sure those sheep get looked after better than any of the rest of us ever did," laughs Ursula.
"Those lambs are worth about €500 a pop - you can be sure that dad was never going to let anything happen to them. He actually insisted to the 'Late Late' producers that the lambs be left on their mothers until the last minute to minimise the amount of time they were separated to literally minutes.
"And with the lights and radio on in the shed 24-7, and TJ's grandkids running around the place the whole time, I don't think the studio lights or audience bothered him one bit."
Electronic tagging of breeding sheep is compulsory and sheep farmers must tag every lamb before they reach nine months old. Picking the spot to pierce a lamb's ear is a task you want to get right the first time, presenting TJ's fertile mind with a fresh conundrum. The lamb carousel, which easily restrains the animals while the job is done, is the result.
"The idea only started three weeks ago when dad got a call from a sheep farmer in Donegal who was starting to lamb down about 200 ewes.
"Dad went off down to the shed scratching his head. A week later he had the carousel made up.
"He's a farmer who's been coming up with ideas for sheep equipment for 30 years," explained Ursula.
Over the years, TJ has garnered awards for his innovative solutions to everyday farming problems such as a sit-in scales to monitor a flock's weight-gain.