Tuesday 16 January 2018

Slice of history . . . loy makes the cut at county fair

Jon Rule and Tom Kennedy demonstrating the art of loy digging at the Kingdom County Fair, Tralee, Co Kerry, yesterday.
Jon Rule and Tom Kennedy demonstrating the art of loy digging at the Kingdom County Fair, Tralee, Co Kerry, yesterday.
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

IT had all but died out, but a group of ploughing enthusiasts is hoping to revive the art of loy digging -- a common agricultural practice during Famine times.

Yesterday, ploughmen demonstrated it in a competition at the Kingdom County Fair in Tralee, Co Kerry.

This was the first time in the fair's 63-year history that loy digging has featured, said Moss Trant of the organising committee.

"Loy digging would have been common practice around the time of the Famine when people used it to make ridges to sow the potatoes," he explained.

Loy digging involves turning two sods inwards and using the dislodged clay to fill in between them to form a type of drill.

It was particularly useful for marginal land that couldn't be accessed by horses or heavier machinery.

"A loy spade differs slightly from the ordinary spade because it has a wooden wedge at the back to make the turning of the sod easier," Mr Trant added.

"It had all but died out in Kerry and we're trying to bring it back."

Hundreds attended the fair at the Ballybeggan racecourse on the outskirts of the town, where other attractions included show jumping competitions, livestock and vintage machinery.

The fair is run on a volunteer basis and supported by local businesses.

Irish Independent

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