Tuesday 6 December 2016

Blow-dried heifer steals the show at Tullamore

Published 10/08/2015 | 02:30

Conrad (11) and Beth McConnell (8) from Donegal resting against the family bull Macmann Bullagh Bos during the Tullamore National Livestock Show
Conrad (11) and Beth McConnell (8) from Donegal resting against the family bull Macmann Bullagh Bos during the Tullamore National Livestock Show
Honey judge Jim Power and a steward examine entries
Dr Vanessa Woods, chief executive of Agri Aware, with Max Chiswick (2) from Castleknock, Dublin, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, and Richard Moeran, chairman of Agri Aware

There were bonny babies, preening cattle and music pumping out at every turn as the Tullamore Show kicked into full-scale party mode.

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And for those farmers who had spent months preparing their animals for the competition, the big day was finally here.

Rita Goulding, from Ballyduff, Tralee, Co Kerry, was putting one of her sons, Jack (18) - a Kerry minor footballer who won the young handlers competition - through his paces bringing cattle back and forth to the show ring.

"I washed her this morning, blow-dried her and groomed her. Today has been fantastic. We won the female champion and the female reserve champion as well, so we kind of stole the show," said a delighted Rita, after winning Hereford heifer of the year with one of her charges.

She was one of an estimated 60,000 farmers and spectators who packed the Midlands show yesterday.

They say a change is as good as a holiday and for undertaker-turned-farmer John Murphy it was clearly paying off, judging by the smile on his face as he dodged the five-deep crowds surrounding the show ring.

"I absolutely love it," said the newbie farmer from Gorey, Co Wexford, as he won a class with his prized pedigree Hereford heifer on his first time entering the AIB National Livestock Championship.

"I never showed here before, I'm only new to farming," said John, from Murphy's Undertakers in Gorey. "I'm an undertaker by trade and I bought a bit of land and a few cattle. I'm only learning."

Meanwhile, the familiar tannoy appeals for parents to rescue lost children had to compete with the roars and applause as the GAA clashes were aired on the big screens.

"If he was buying bullocks, he'd be all day, so you take your time," quipped Frank Canning to one youngster, as some of the Galway family were busy wrapping their handmade hurleys in county and club colours for the young up-and-coming players.

"It is hard enough to get large quantities of ash," he said, adding that the knack to a good hurley was all in the grain of the wood.

"Nowadays they're after light hurleys as the game is gone so fast and it is all in the wrists," he explained.

The fashion tents were also proving a lure, with the title of Little Miss and Mr Offaly going to brother and sister Cian (3) and two-year-old Aine Dunican from Ballycumber.

Inside the 300,000sq.ft tented village, some of the revival of old-style foraging could be seen in action with damson-flavoured alcohol and handmade chutneys. Outside, there were plenty of questions for John Grant from Slievardagh Poultry in Tipperary as more people purchased poultry with the promise of 300 eggs a year.

"They're suited for the back garden. We've even sold them for balconies in Dublin city - two hens in a coop and people let the hens wander around the balcony," he said.

Irish Independent

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