Ploughing on to ease hard times
VERY little in the Irish calendar compares with the events of September. The two All-Ireland finals are followed by what in recent years has become the greatest festival of rural Ireland, eclipsing all others: the national ploughing championships.
This year our farmers, who have become all too familiar with hard times, truly have something to celebrate. The harvest has been good. Cereal prices are rising -- a misfortune for growers in Russia and elsewhere who experienced dreadful weather conditions, and a worldwide problem for the poor, but a source of much-needed cash for Irish farmers.
But not everything is rosy in rural Ireland. Disastrous planning decisions have spoiled the landscape. Too many small towns are in serious decline. Social life has suffered.