Bonny babies, bullocks with no teeth and large ducks - must be Tullamore
Published 11/08/2014 | 02:30
PEDIGREE animals weren't merely strutting their stuff at the Tullamore Show, you could also go home with a new heifer if you so desired.
Mucky conditions and some torrential downpours failed to deter over 50,000 people from swarming to the Blueball estate in Co Offaly to sample the best in Irish farming.
The show was also the venue for Ireland's first ever online livestock auction leading to some excited bidding for the two Limousin beasts on offer.
Tullamore native Brendan Hannigan chose the event to launch Livestock Live, a new virtual mart he hopes will trade in some of the two million cattle that change hands in Ireland each year.
Bidding rose rapidly from just €1 to between €826 and €918 each for the heifers by close of business.
But it was still the prize cattle competing for the top honours at the AIB National Livestock Awards that drew the most admiring glances.
The finely-primped Angus, Charolais and Holstein-Friesians vying for the various Supreme Champion awards drew huge crowds to the show rings.
From "Best Bullock with No Permanent Teeth" to "Best Large Duck" or "Best Collection of Leaves", the show featured almost 1,000 separate competition classes in everything from cookery to flower arranging with a total prizefund of €165,000.
Despite changeable weather conditions which spelled good news for Wellington boot sellers, the show drew visitors from all corners of Ireland and beyond,
They included Canadian ambassador to Ireland Loyola Hearn on one of his last ever official outings in the job.
Mr Hearn who's been a repeat visitor said he wasn't aware of any such fair in Canada drawing such a huge crowd to showcase the agricultural industry.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney opened the event and was quick to point out his recent promotion to add to his farming and food portfolio.
"I have Defence as well in case anyone steps out of line," he said.
On a serious note, he made a special appeal to visitors to redouble their efforts to improve farm safety as more people have died on Irish farms already in 2014 than in the whole of 2013.
"Some people in this audience will have experienced the trauma and distress of losing a family member on the farm," he said.
A change of mindset was needed to prevent further needless tragedy as "it doesn't mater how fit or how strong or how capable you are", he said.
Following criticism from the Irish Farmers Association Mr Coveney said he was also aware of the difficulties facing Ireland's 100,000 beef farmers fuelled by low beef prices in Europe.
With 90pc of our beef exported, Ireland was vulnerable to a rising and falling market though he was doing everything he could to protect them.
He assured them he was working to set up producer organisers which would give farmers more bargaining power with the meat factories, while the reopening of exports to the US this autumn after a 16-year break would also help.
While local priests prayed for good weather at the show's official opening, it was not to be.
The heavens promptly responded with a spectacular deluge leading to anxious murmurs about how the hilly fields pressed into service as temporary carparks would cope.
Brilliant sunshine tantalised the crowds by returning - only to be chased again by more showers leading to an earlier than usual clear-out.
Attendance was estimated to be down around 12pc on last year to 50,000 as a result of poor weather, said show spokesman Christy Maye.
Now in its 23rd year the Tullamore Show combatted the fickle Irish summer by moving venue five years ago to its present location on a farm owned by Ann-Marie Butterfield and Stephen McQuaide which has proven able to weather wash-outs.
AIB national livestock show Tullamore results
Pedigree Jersey Champion
1st: Turlough Miss Daisy
Owner: J&M and N Collis. Turlough Manor Farm, Dromin McTurlough, Newcastle West, Limerick
2nd: Mullaghlands Pride Swiss
Owner: P Gaynor, Mullaghlands, Mullagh, Co Cavan
Dairy Shorthorn Champion
1st. Owner. Glenn Carter, Oldcastle, Clonakenny, Roscrea, Co Tipperary
2nd, Kenneth Smyth, Smyth Farm, St Margarets Village, Co Dublin
1st. Owner; Bernard Hunt, Lisbaleely, Gorteen, Sligo
2nd. Owner: Seamus Maher, Slevinagee, Roscommon, Co Roscommon
1st. Owner: Francis Donohoe, Johnstown, Collinstown, Mullingar, Co Westmeath
2nd. Owner: John Walsh, Ballintra, Donegal
Dunbia All Ireland Commercial Steer Champion
1st. Owners: Saoirse & Laoise Carry-Lynch, Hermitage Glenn, Keels, Co Meath
2nd Owners: Robert & Mark McGivern, Carrigtwohill, Co Cork
1st. Owner: John Farrell, Cloonakilla, Strokestown, Co Roscommon
2nd: Liam Conway, Caltra, Ballinasloe, Co Galway
1st. Owner: Joe Moran, Powerstown, Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny
2nd. Owner: Albert de Cogan, Killamuckey, Castlemartyr, Cork