Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 November 2017

Bright sparks ready to shine at Tullamore Show

Inventions competition will showcase the latest in agri innovation

Mary and Sarah Murphy from Ballina in Co Mayo
Mary and Sarah Murphy from Ballina in Co Mayo

Ken Whelan

All roads lead to Tullamore next month for inventors and innovators who will exhibit their latest ideas at the country's most popular one-day agricultural show.

The National Inventions Competition, which is co-sponsored by WR Shaw, Glenngorey Pumps Ltd and the Farming Independent, will showcase devices which judge David Frizelle says are all aimed at making life easier on the farm.

The retired engineering lecturer from Tralee IT heads up a panel of four judges, and he says the inventions entered at Tullamore every year range from the practical to the eccentric but they all answer problems experienced by farmers on a daily basis. "The inventors identify a need and set about dealing with it," he says.

Entries have yet to close for this year's show but already there are some innovative ideas ready to be unveiled.

Twin sisters Mary and Sarah Murphy from Ballina in Co Mayo, who won their category with a grease gun for marking sheep, are back again with a new device for scanning sheep.

The transition year students, who work with sheep on the home farm, are at the "patent pending" stage for their winning grease gun. They source the components of the apparatus in France and Germany and have already sold nearly 300 of the guns mainly at fairs and shows in the West of Ireland. The Murphy twins, who intend to pursue careers in business and engineering at third level, will be spending this summer showing and selling their labour-saving devices at agricultural shows from the Tullamore show to the Ploughing.

The veteran of this year's inventors' roll call is 87-year-old Tony Bergin (below) who has come up with a novel lawnmower attachment to clear the grass from road and path verges.

"The Tidy Town committee in Roscrea asked me to come up with something to clear where the grass overhangs paths and roads. It was taking about eight people to do the job and it took me two months to come up with the idea of the lawnmower attachment.

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"I have been entering things to the Tullamore show since 1985. I was a small dairy farmer - the land is leased now - but I am always thinking of ways to make life easier for people. Sometimes the thinking keeps me awake at night," Tony adds. One of his previous inventions, a multi-purpose calving aid, got special mention at the Tullamore show a few years ago. The device - a 7ft hoist - is used for what Tony describes as "Caesarean jobs".

Inventiveness obviously runs in the family. His American cousin, Christine Johnson, has some 40 patents to her name, and is back inventing after a spell working with the US Energy Agency.

Mobile hen house

Liam Murphy, a dairy farmer from Lisdowney, Co Kilkenny, is another prolific inventor. His creations include the much-used bale wrap shearer and a front-loading calve feeder which is being produced for the market by Tanco.

His entry for this year's competition is the 'Hen Cycle', a slightly off-centre device aimed at people - urban and rural - who want to produce their own fresh breakfast eggs.

The mobile hen house on bicycle wheels allows the hens to be moved around the farm or garden to clear the available vegetation (see My Week, page 34).

Andrew O'Neill, who works with farmers in the Shannonbridge area of Offaly, has come up with a novel wire clamp to keep sheep in their fields.

Instead of using angle grinders and heavy wire, Andrew has developed a wire clamp which is lighter and more easily attached to existing field posts.

"I work on fencing for local farmers and I thought to myself that there had to be a better way of keeping the sheep in without having to use heavy angle grinders and clamping equipment. I just thought there had to be an easier way to do this and I came up with the wire clamp."

The inventors' tent has been the brainchild of Tullamore Show chairman Rodney Cox.

"Entries are healthy this year and we are looking forward to a great show. The footfall in the inventors' area is always good. People are interested in the latest developments.

"A few years ago, it was all about round bales, then it was heating systems and now there is an emphasis on safety issues. We are all inquisitive and we are always interested in inventions The inventions usually mirror what is happening in the farming economy," says Rodney.

Entries are still open for the National Inventions Competition. For more information, phone: 057 9352141 or email:

Indo Farming