Growing up outside the town of Tullow, Co Carlow, I always had an interest in animals and agriculture. As a child, I loved being outdoors; I helped out on relations’ farms and rode in a local riding school regularly. It wasn’t until I started studying Agricultural Science for my Leaving Cert with the late Jim Conway that I realised I wanted to pursue a career in the sector.
I went on to study a BSc in Agricultural Science in Waterford IT and later transferred to University College Dublin to study a BSc (Hons) in Animal Science. After working in numerous sectors throughout college including agri-food, advisory and laboratory, it was research that challenged and interested me the most. I am now in my second year of my PhD in UCD, studying more efficient and sustainable storage of cereal grains, how these alternatively stored grains affect digestive health in monogastrics and the life cycle assessment of the production systems under Professor John O’Doherty, and I absolutely love it!
How I got involved
I first got involved in Tullow Show while I was on beef farm placement in UCD with Derek and Mary Deane. Mary manages our trade stands at Tullow Show and asked me to help out back in 2016 – I’ve been on the committee ever since. I was elected as public relations and entertainment officer in 2018 so I look after the entertainment, social media, website and advertising along with a few other things! At the end of last year, I was delighted to be nominated, and even more honoured, to be elected onto the eastern regional board of the Irish Shows Association (ISA) which promotes and assists the development of agricultural shows in Ireland.
The last two years have been tough on everyone missing the shows due to COVID-19. Being on the ISA, I am now attending even more shows than I previously would have and the one thing every show this year is seeing is record attendee numbers. I think it is safe to say everyone has missed them and it is so encouraging to see the support shows are receiving. They are a great social event and help bridge the gap between rural and urban living.
The work behind the scenes
There’s a mountain of work that goes on behind the scenes to get ready for the show. From taking entries to trade stands, to putting up rings and trying to create awareness to attract a crowd too. We have a committee meeting once a month from January onwards and have more regular meetings getting closer to the show. Our executive committee of volunteers has 40 - 50 members, but there are over 200 people who assist on show day.
Being a member of the committee
My favourite part of working on the committee is definitely the sense of community and excitement you feel on the lead up to show day, it’s addictive. Everyone gathers for one main aim and that is to have an even better show than last year. We’re constantly trying to bring new attractions to the show and it’s so rewarding to stand back on show day and see what we have all accomplished!
I wholeheartedly believe young people are so important on show committees as they are crucial for the development of shows. Being a young person, my ideas have always been supported and listened to on the Tullow Show committee. Even more importantly I have been given the chance to make changes in different areas of the show. We have a mixture of young people and “more experienced” committee members and I think we work really well together. Having said that, we are always looking for new members so don’t hesitate to get involved if you are from Tullow or the surrounding areas.
Tullow Show is also known as the Carlow County Show. Our very first show was held in 1946 on Tullow’s Gaelic grounds, but since 1955 we have been on the picturesque show grounds of Coppenagh, just outside Tullow. Although 2022 will be our 72nd show, we actually celebrated our 75th anniversary from establishment in 2021.
We have over 400 classes across a wide array of interests including livestock, equestrian, home industries, dogs and more. Our competitions are always very well supported but the support this year has been exceptional.
There are lots of popular attractions such as cooking demonstrations from celebrity chef Edward Hayden in our quality food pavilion, our Coppenagh craft village, music and dancing and our ever popular dog show.
This year we have lots of new attractions including a revamped schedule of over 400 classes, new beef breeding heifer classes with a total prize fund of €2,000 (kindly sponsored by ABP Slaney & ABP Waterford) and Joe the Magician, from RTÉ Junior, for our younger spectators.” CL
Tullow Agricultural Show takes place Sunday 21 August at Coppenagh, Tullow. www.tullowagricultural show.com