I come from a small farming background, we keep a few Irish Draught mares and youngstock, along with some Hereford and Aberdeen Angus drystock cattle. During the summer months, I enjoy going to the local agricultural shows, sometimes we might bring my Hereford cow or an Irish Draught mare.

Shows are a great place for meeting and making new friends and one thing Daddy [Padraig] always tells us is that the judges’ decision on the day is final. We’re always told to respect other exhibitors and, most importantly, enjoy our day out.

Our local show Mohill has been running for the last 94 years. It hosts a lot of major cattle classes and also has the All-Ireland mare and foal championship, in partnership with Horse Sport Ireland and the Leitrim Breeders. This championship has been running for over 30 years and last August, my sister Amy had the privilege of being the first Leitrim person to win this final with our Gortfadda Ruby Kingdom and her Inisfree The Holy Grail foal.

Amy is studying to be a business and geography teacher in Maynooth University. Kian, our younger brother, is a pupil in Mohill National School and I’ve just finished my Junior Cert mock exams in Mohill Community College. My favourite subject is woodwork because it’s a practical subject, which I enjoy.

Great days

Usually I’d bring my Hereford cow and calf to Mohill Show. I really like showing Hereford cattle, as like the Irish Draught, they have a placid temperament and are very easy to work with. I bought my first Hereford heifer (Elsie) in 2015 from John Jones at Gorey Agricultural Show.

Elsie and I had some great days out at local shows where she won her class on many occasions and also claimed a few championships along the way. My favourite show day was Cloone Agricultural Show in 2019, winning the best pair of pedigree Herefords with Elsie and Bernie, my two cows.

Since I started showing cattle, one of my favourite classes is the Young Handlers class. I’ve won this class at various shows and last November, at the National Hereford Calf Show in Tullamore, I took part in the Senior Young Handler Class. I was very lucky to take a well-deserved second place in a very tough class.

Tullamore Agricultural Show is one of the largest Hereford shows in the country and in 2018, I brought Elsie there and was very happy to finish up in third place. My wish someday is to win the All-Ireland Hereford Heifer class at Tullamore.

Last year, I got involved with the Next Gen Herefords, which is organised by the Hereford Society to encourage young people to get involved in breeding and showing cattle.

Paul says shows are a great place for meeting and making new friends. \ Susan Finnerty

Dozer and Rodney

In March 2021, Next Gen Herefords organised that nine families around Ireland could rear a Hereford-Friesian cross calf and sell it for a charity of their choice. So my friend Liam and I decided we would like to take part. We bought two Friesian bull calves in Cavan, sponsored by the Hereford Society, called Dozer and Rodney. My calf is called Dozer, I’ll keep him for two years and I plan on selling him in Mohill Mart.

The proceeds on the day will go to the charity I chose which is the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland (Leitrim branch). The reason is my granny had Alzheimer’s and passed away two years ago, so I want to help people with Alzheimer’s and their family.

Yes, there’s a lot of preparation work involved in showing animals and this starts a long time before the show. Calves and foals need to be halter-trained, walked and taught how to stand properly. To prepare the cattle for the show, I have to wash them a few days

beforehand and also on the morning of the show. Usually when they’re unloaded, they may have to be washed again, blow dried, clipped, shined and ready for the show ring. The horses, I think, are easier to get ready because we usually have them washed, lightly rugged and plaited the evening before.

Many wins

Last year, I was extremely lucky as Amy was studying for the Leaving Cert and was unable to lead our mare, Mrs Wood, at the first few shows. Because she’s by Coolcronan Wood, Gortfadda Ruby Kingdom’s name at home is Mrs Wood. So I took over this job, starting at Athlone in June and finishing off at Strokestown Show.

It was a year to remember for me and Mrs Wood because, as a team, the two of us just seem to click. We had many wins over the summer months and the highlight was winning the Irish Draught mare reserve championship at the Dublin Horse Show. She also won the supreme in-hand championship at the IDHBA national show at Punchestown and the All-Ireland Strokestown Park Irish Draught broodmare final.

This year, the Gortfadda Herefords jacket and Bohan convoy will be back for the show season. I hope to have either a Hereford bull or heifer calf for the shows, along with a Hereford cow. Amy has a three-year-old Irish Draught filly – Gabby, by Carrickcottage Star – which she intends to show this summer, Kian hasn’t started showing cattle or horses yet but he’s always in the background, helping us out, along with Daddy and Mammy [Gillian].