Farm Ireland

Monday 22 January 2018

Bright ideas wanted as show bids to up entries

Bruce Lett

One of the cornerstone attractions of the Tullamore Agricultural Show is the National Inventions Competition section, which rouses the curiosity of many of the visitors to the event, particularly farmers.

Farming is perhaps one of the best occupations for nurturing and developing creativity at all levels, because necessity is very often the mother of invention around the farm.

There is hardly a farmer's yard in the country that doesn't have a welder and angle grinder shoved under a bench or into a corner. These are perhaps two of the main tools of an inventive mind around the farm.

Take regular show entrant and prolific inventor Liam Murphy from Ballyragget, Co Kilkenny, as a prime example ( We profiled him here in the run up to last year's event.

Liam is a farming man whose list of inventions includes the turbo sprong, tyre mat and Tanco's bale shear. Liam and his son, Brian, are regulars at the Tullamore Show inventions competition.

Perhaps driven by the economic downturn, last year's inventions competition at Tullamore attracted a record number of entries, with 47 across three classes.

Organiser Rodney Cox and his team have made some changes for this year's competition to help cope with the anticipated volume of both entries and visitors.

"Traditionally, judging of entries in the Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry section is done on a Saturday," says Rodney.

Also Read

"Mainly because the entries in this class tend to be big, and with health and safety in mind, we prefer to demonstrate them for judging on the Saturday with no crowd around."

The remaining classes were usually judged on the Sunday, the day of the show.

However, last year's competition generated a huge crowd of interested onlookers, creating some difficulty for the judges.

"Because of the interest and level of visitors in the section, judging on the Sunday was very difficult for the judges," says Rodney. With this in mind, the organisers have moved all judging to the Saturday.

"More people have Saturdays off now so it's not as big an issue. It also gives the judges more time with the inventors and their inventions."

With health and safety a crucial element of farm life, last year's competition included a large number of entries designed to make life both safer and easier for farmers, including a calf handler, one-way crush gates, feeders, round bale handlers, log clamp and more.

Rodney and fellow organiser Liam Murphy say the inventions competition generates a real camaraderie between the contestants who have a genuine interest in each other's inventions and experiences.

"The type of people that inventors are, they really enjoy the event, enjoy being there among their own and even if no one showed up they would still enjoy the day," says Rodney.

Rodney and Liam hope to increase the level of entries this year, with a strong emphasis placed on encouraging students and younger people to enter the competition.

The format remains the same: three main sections, with a student category in each section.

"Last year saw a number of projects entered from transition year students and we would really like to see more entries in the student category," says Rodney.

He has some advice for this year's competitors.

"Be aware that all the judging now takes place on Saturday, August 13, from 10am and the closing date for entries is Friday, July 22," he says.

"There will be a representative from the Patents Office there on the day to give out advice.

"For anyone with an inventive mind, particularly young people, the inventions competition is an opportunity to encourage that inventive creativity and a platform from which to launch it."

Indo Farming