Pumped up for action in Cavan
Pumpkin growers descend on Virginia for Halloween festival
'Grow big or go home' is the message from pumpkin growing champion Michael Byrne to entrants for next weekend's pumpkin championships in Virginia, Co Cavan.
The 21-year-old, who has just completed his agriculture degree at UCD and is set to pursue a scholarship to complete a Masters there, has a passion for growing the fruit which takes centre stage at Halloween.
Back in 2009, he won the Virginia showpiece along with his twin brother Oisín when they entered a "700 pounder" grown on their parents' farm at Togher, Co Louth.
And Michael now has bigger and grander pumpkin ambitions. He intends go for the double next year in pronto style fashion.
"I'm building a 29ft by 64ft poly tunnel on the home farm at the moment. It will be state of the art and I will be growing two pumpkins for next year's competition.
"It will be costly but I will have the time because I'll be spending less time in Dublin at the university this year.
"Growing pumpkins is like rearing a child. It takes time, love and money," he told the Farming Independent.
"You are never going to be a millionaire growing pumpkins. You just do it for the pure love of it. It's a bit like gambling. You just get hooked on the thing. It becomes an obsession."