A connection with the heart of the country
Something for everyone from toddlers to OAPs
Last Tuesday morning, I was wondering what I was going to write about this week. What else could it be about except the Ploughing? But, given the vast coverage it has already garnered, what is there left to say?.
First off, can I say a heartfelt thanks to the many people who came to visit us the on the Irish Independent stand and for the feedback on this column. Not everybody agrees with everything I write but, as someone said to me, I wouldn't be doing my job if they did.
To my mind, the mood among farmers was at best uneasy. Large capital investment - even in the dairy sector - looks to have slowed, but there seems to have been plenty of activity in terms of smaller-scale innovations and technologies. For people working in this area, the Ploughing was a great shop window and also a valuable opportunity to keep tabs on the opposition.
Landing in the gate on the Tuesday morning, I happened upon the Aldi stand where comedian Jon Kenny was belting out a yarn about winning the Junior B County Hurling Final and how, on top of a trip to Spain, the team were getting some sponsorship from Aldi. So what was the form of the sponsorship? Maybe a few fillet steaks? Not a bit of it. Instead, it was 29 pairs of wellies which, as you can imagine, the team ended up being hilariously welded into by the time the plane landed in Spain.
Decked in thousands of living flowers, the Aldi stand apparently cost a substantial six figure sum to erect and was so busy that they insisted on a one-way system to operate it. Inside, it was laid out like an old fashioned village street which pressed all the right emotional buttons with consumers.
Next to the supermarket area was the Ken Black toy stand, one of many with model farm machinery. Ken first came to the Ploughing many moons ago selling a few bits out of the back of an Ifor Williams cattle trailer. Such was the scrum on the ramp that the box reared up.
Now he is Ireland's best known toy man. The Black family live in Abbeyleix and the Ploughing means all hands on deck. Wife Frances, an established artist in her own right, got a quick lesson in machinery identification from one customer. "Listen lady, if it's New Holland you're asked for, it's blue; if it's a Massey its red; if it's a Claas or John Deere, its green."
By mid-morning, the main track ways were like 10-lane, snail-paced motorways and you took your life in your hands to try and cross anywhere other than a major, gridlocked, intersection.