I have always had a keen interest in farming, I grew up on a suckler farm and now work alongside my son Kenneth on our family farm in county Cavan.

I worked as an AI technician for a number of years and always took good appreciation in top quality stock.

Although my interest was always in suckler farming, many moons ago I had my own vegetable garden which led to me getting involved in Arva Agricultural Show.

Taking the good with the bad

When I was a teenager, aged 15 or 16, I took great pride in looking after my vegetable garden at home and really developed an interest in maintaining it.

I grew all types of vegetables at the time and decided one year to enter them into our local show in Arva.

Golden Eye/Ewe only live twice! James “00007” Baaaand the sheep was rocking his tuexedo at Arva Show, Cavan on Sunday afternoon. Suits ewe Sir!. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

I often won prizes here and there in the horticulture section, I remember actually one year I had a number of entries and was delighted to win a prize in each class.

The following year I decided to enter more vegetables and ended up winning only 1/3 of the prizes that year. I suppose sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

After that I decided to attend the next few meetings and over the years that have now evolved into my current role as a livestock steward at the show. I’m glad to say I have only ever missed one show to date due to my wedding.

Favourite memories of the show

I actually attended the first ever Arva Show on August 15, 1956. I remember my father bringing me in on the back of his bike and it pouring raining the whole day.

Not many people will remember the Drumcrow Band, they were parading in the town that day and worked their way up to the showgrounds for a session.

Simon Johnston with his grandson at his family home in county Cavan.

The secretary at the time, Philip Brady, was taking entries before the show behind a hawthorn tree while it was raining. Even with the rain, the first ever Arva Show will always stand out as a special memory to me.

The highlight of the show back in the day was 100% the showjumping.

The army team would always come to jump at the show, which was a big attraction at the time. Everyone would watch with anticipation as the horses would jump over the big stone wall on the grounds, which was around seven or eight feet high.”

My role

My role on the Arva Show committee is working as a steward on the cattle rings. I help prepare the field in order to create the showgrounds [in advance].

Back in the day, all you needed was a good heavy sledge, a crowbar and lots of six-inch posts for making the ring but now there’s lots of new technology and machinery to help you along the way.

Before the show we would spend two hard days preparing the showground, we would continue to have meetings every week with the committee to discuss how we could improve and evolve the show.

There is always a lovely cup of tea at the end of each meeting which makes it really worthwhile.

Cattle showing has really gotten very specialised now. Years ago you placed a halter on your animal and walked them by road to the showgrounds.

Now it has become somewhat professional; there’s blow drying, spraying, washing and much more for preparing your animal.

Arva Show

The Arva Show is based on the border of three counties and three provinces with this year’s show marking the 63rd year.

Arva show was started by Macra and was known as Arva Macra na Feirme Show. It has now evolved into one of Cavan’s largest shows, with over 440 classes in cattle, ponies, horses, sheep, goats and home industries.

The Arva Show creates a great buzz around the town and has become a tradition.

Everything seems to revolve around the show, if something happens around the town, the question? that comes next, was it before the show or after the show?

We are very lucky to have a dedicated young committee led by Jim Finnegan. The young committee work hard and are continuously thinking of new ideas to make the show bigger and better than ever.

Simon Johnston at his family home in county Cavan.

I have been one of the honoree presidents on the committee. Tom Seery was also an honoree president at Arva Show and sadly passed away last week.

Tom was treasurer for many years and was very dedicated to the show. He was always known for decorating the window of his pub in Arva town with the winning cups coming up to the show.

Arva Show takes place this Sunday 24 July in Drumalt, Arva, Co Cavan, from 10am-6pm. Visit www.arvashow.com

Vintage Rally in Mountbellew Returns

The Mountbellew Vintage Rally has announced it will return with a bang this year, with this year’s event taking place on the mart grounds on Sunday 24 July.

Mountbellew Vintage Committee have gone to great lengths to incorporate an actual field of corn which will feature all old methods of harvesting, from the hook and scythe to modern combine harvester.

There is also the opportunity to see the car used by Michael Collins’ fiancée Kitty Kiernan during the War of Independence.

Jonathan Regan, one of the founding fathers of the Mountbellew Vintage Rally, said: “As the years go by, more and more people are interested in the social history of the past.

I am yet to meet anybody who didn’t enjoy a few hours browsing through the hundreds of historic items on show at the Mountbellew Vintage Rally.”

Mountbellew Vintage Rally will take place this Sunday 24 July. For more details on the show email mountbellew.vintage.club@gmail.com

Read more

Behind the scenes of the summer shows: Joan Widger of Clonmel Agri Show

Hurling on centre stage at Clonmel Junction Festival