Inventors rise to the challenge
The National Inventions Competition at Sunday's Tullamore Show proved a real highlight of the day, as can be seen from our pictorial review
It was a pleasure to stroll around the inventions section of the Show on Sunday, where I met some brilliant characters. Every inventor had an infectious enthusiasm in his or her search for that perfect idea that we all strive for.
In total around 30 different inventions were presented, and this year the top honour in the main class - Inventions in Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture - went to Pat Keary for his safety gate for castrating cattle. Mr Keary's idea caught the eye of the judges for its relevance in improving safety while castrating bulls, and with so many farm fatalities taking place due to livestock accidents it is certainly a worthy winner.
In second place was Vincent Kiernan with his mobile crush unit - a one stop shop for handling cattle. Mr Kiernan's idea aims to reduce the stress endured by both man and beast during calving and dosing.
The Inventions Competition, which is sponsored by the Farming Independent, WR Shaw and Glenngorey Pumps, also sees a number of entries come in under the "labour saving" banner each year. Two inventions that caught my eye in this category were Aidan O Connell's very handy ATV attachment for fencing, and Sean Kenny's kerb lifter.
After a few hours browsing on a sunny day in Tullamore it became clear that many of the concepts on display came about as a result of personal experience or challenges faced on the farm. I found the inventor's story was often as interesting as the new idea itself.
It was great to see Estelle Parkinson and Ellen O' Donnell - two young students about to enter Transition Year - present their concept for a slurry gas monitoring system called 'Gas Hear'. The system detects dangerous slurry gases in the air once they reach a certain concentration and then automatically sends a warning text message to five designated mobile phone numbers. The idea is to prevent a farmer becoming isolated while agitating slurry and unwittingly releasing dangerous gases. A brilliant idea, and one that left us mere mortals wondering why no one had come up with something similar before? I suppose this is the way with all good inventions, and it's refreshing to see the future is in good hands lots of young inventors on the rise.
A recent addition to the inventions competition is the presence of a very helpful team from the patents office in Kilkenny. The patents office team were busy on Sunday answering questions from budding inventors, and this is a really important consideration because without a patent the inventor would not be able to prevent others from copying the idea. It is often the case that first time inventors - even though they might have a really good idea - are not in a position to produce or market their product from their own resources. Patents provide a basis for owners to negotiate with potential investors while preserving their intellectual property rights. This is the kind of advice that is crucial to any up and coming inventor.
As can be seen from this pictorial round up featuring some of the highlights, the new designs often spawned from an idea to improve safety on or around the farm, or to take the backbreaking work out of doing an everyday farming task. We weren't able to feature every invention due to space pressures, but well done to all involved.