Listen: NPA chair PJ Lynam reflects upon a successful Ploughing
"The highlight really has to be the number of people, the patrons that have attended over the last three days," National Ploughing Association (NPA) chair PJ Lynam said at the end of the third day of the Ploughing.
"We have had so many ambassadors here – we had the ambassador of New Zealand, the ambassador from Australia, the American ambassador, the papal nuncio and all the politicians from all the parties have been here in attendance over the three days including the president, the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste."
Despite ongoing farm income issues, the Ploughing this year was another big success.
"Farm incomes are always a challenge. You speak to farmers off the record and it's always like this saying this is the worst year they've ever had and we won't survive," Lynam said. "But they're all surviving, not with ease now, but with difficulty. I suppose the big difference is the size of the farms now. It's difficult for a lot of the smaller ones to carry on. But as the President was saying, there are issues with succession. If you inherit the farm in the morning the first thing you face is a tax bill just when you're trying to establish yourself. I think that should be spread out over a period of ten years rather than paying it all up front."
This year's national Ploughing competition was held on a 153-acre site in Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Lynam described the dismantling of all the stands in the days after the Ploughing every year as a "hurricane that was after hitting the site. By Monday or Tuesday, I'd say 70% of the stuff will be gone out of here".
In terms of ploughing itself, the final major competition on the third day determined who would represent Ireland at the world ploughing in Kenya next year.
"I think this year has been a great test for them, because normally we would only put down a field of grass we'll say last year and have it ready for the ploughing competitions the following year," Lynam told the Irish Farmers Journal. "But on this site here we were just lucky to get a field that hasn't been ploughed in forty years. So that is a test, if you can plough that you are doing well."
I've worked with Anna May for over 40 years and she's just so dedicated. It's not a job to her, it's a passion she has
Lynam commended Anna May and her daughter Anna Marie McHugh on their dedication to the NPA.
"I've worked with Anna May for over 40 years and she's just so dedicated. It's not a job to her, it's a passion she has. I've been known to get calls from Anna May of a Sunday night at 11 o'clock and you could get them at seven in the morning. Ploughing is just in her blood, it's in her veins."
For full coverage of the ploughing click here.