Farm Ireland

Thursday 23 November 2017

Downpour fails to dampen spirits as stallholders enjoy sales boost

Joe Fahy
with his grandneice
Roisin Lardner as he
takes part in the
Special Horse Plough
Joe Fahy with his grandneice Roisin Lardner as he takes part in the Special Horse Plough Class
Crowds shelter from the rain at the Ploughing Championships in Athy, Co Kildare, yesterday
Sarah Cass cuts a stylish figure
Carrie Acheson at the PA system
Philip O'Flynn grooms Ballydavid Gorgeous
Niamh Moore and Johanna Cousins at the festival
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

RAIN dampened play at the Ploughing Championships yesterday -- but stallholders reported the upbeat mood in farming translated into increased sales.

Some ferocious showers meant the crowd thinned out early and, at 69,000, did not reach its first day peak -- but a strong showing of secondary students helped boost takings for many.

Business at the O'Neill's tent was so brisk they had to introduce a queue for entry to their sportswear sale.

The Avonmore tent sold a record 8,500 smoothies and milk drinks on the first day compared to 6,000 last year; and trade remained steady yesterday, with the presence of Kilkenny hurlers JJ Delaney and Jackie Tyrrell an added draw.

"I could not believe the number of school students - in 30 years I haven't seen anything like it," said Glanbia's Kieran O'Connor.

Children's and teenager's fleeces and hoodies were proving to be most-wanted at the McCul Clothing stall.

"It's definitely way up on the last two years, and it's particularly strong because there's so many teenagers," said owner Derek Young.

Footballing legend Paul McGrath had sold a few hundred copies of his new charity CD, 'Handle With Care'.

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"It's my first time down and it's pretty amazing, though the weather isn't helping today," he said.

But water wasn't bad news for everyone.

Looming water charges were helping one Cork entrepreneur achieve strong sales of his new kits aimed at cutting water flow from household taps and toilets.

Martin Lane, from Mitchelstown, has set up, and said consumers were very keen to avoid high utility bills.


"We've got an absolutely stunning reception, we're getting people interested by selling shoe grips for the snow, but then we show them these kits and the interest is fantastic," he said.

Racehorse trainer Charlie Swan was also plugging his new sideline in pothole filling.

The dreadful weather last winter had caused terrible damage to his yard, but he had discovered a new repair product , BG Quick, that was better than concrete at a fraction of the cost and now had the Irish franchise.

"A lot of people don't recognize me, but they have potholes in their farmyards or milking parlours or whatever and they want to repair rather than replace them," he said.

However, not everywhere saw rising sales.

Rossmore Farmhouse Icecream reported a steady rather than thriving business, and boomerang salesman Peter Santo said trade was just "tapping along, but you've got to try everything".

The high number of transition-year students posed difficulties for gardai as some were already drunk getting off the bus on arrival.

Garda Superintendant Ray Kavanagh said they had taken up to eight people into custody "some for their own safety and some for minor public order offences".


A number of fireworks had also been confiscated and there had been some minor scuffles, but there were no serious incidents, he said. Though traffic was heavy, it had flowed more smoothly than the first day, with initial teething problems on the approach route from the east sorted out, he said.

A crowd of 69,000 attended yesterday, down over 5,000 on the same day last year.

The National Ploughing Association said the slight drop was probably because more people than usual attended the opening day.

The search for souls proved fruitful for the Eucharist Congress who reported dozens of volunteers had signed up for next year's Catholic jamboree, although the many teenagers were more inclined to flock to the Rapid Fire stand next door to practice their rifle skills.

Irish Independent

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