Tractor run puts farmer in pole position
EVER try to drive more than 300km without a seat?
A farm worker who has rarely been outside his own county was yesterday halfway through a 320km run on a seatless tractor.
Alan Robb (41), from Raphoe, Co Donegal, has never been to Dublin but he got near it at the weekend when he led a five-strong convoy of 60-year-old tractors out of Maynooth, Co Kildare. The group are aiming to reach Donegal today.
He settled for a crumpled sponge on top of the seat pole for his long ride via Longford and Sligo to Stranorlar tonight.
Alan, who collects vintage tractors, bought his International B275 10 years ago for €500 and has spent more than €2,000 to make it roadworthy. But he couldn't find a spare seat.
He said: "It's hard to find parts for these old tractors. But she's now roadworthy and I reckon I can manage to drive her for more than 300 kilometres so long as I have a sponge to prevent the seat pole going where nobody wants a pole to go."
Unmarried Alan, who lives in an old cottage outside Raphoe, added: "I have never been to Dublin. I got to Monaghan once. I've never had a yearning to go to the big city. I'm a wee country lad."
The Robbie Robb and Sammy Cowan Annual Vintage Tractor Run was started to raise funds for people with extreme learning difficulties who have been transferred from large institutions to live in six-bed houses which they call home at the Sean O'Hare Unit attached to St Joseph's Hospital, Stranorlar.
Alan's uncle Robbie Robb used to take part in the run. When Robbie and his friend Sammy Cowan died within a few months of each other, the annual convoy was named after them.
Alan said: "It's the 10th anniversary of the run this year, so we thought we would do something different and that's why we're making the long ride from near Dublin."
Convoy organiser John Lanigan, nurse manager at the Sean O'Hare Unit, said: "It's the maddest tractor run ever. The drivers have slept in tents on the side of the road to ensure that all donations go to the fund."