Although there are only four members of the Allen family on our TV screens in Ireland’s Fittest Family, their backroom team is extensive.
Dad Ticey (50); daughter Ruth (18); and sons James (17) and Tom (15), will battle it out against two other families in the final this weekend.
The whole family was involved in their preparation for the show though, which saw them undertake gruelling challenges from bog runs to obstacle courses and holding a squat against a wall for as long as possible.
Firstly, having the problem of too many people to choose from, Róisín, the eldest of the siblings, missed out on a place on the team only by a coin toss. And when they were training for the show, Lilly, the youngest who is only 11, had a very vital role.
The final piece of the puzzle was wife and mother, Anne, who kept a watchful eye over everyone
Living on a dairy farm in Newport, Co Tipperary, they flipped tyres, ran up hills, lifted logs, jumped walls and the pièce de resistance of training was pulling the tractor. All of this was supervised by Lilly.
The final piece of the puzzle was wife and mother, Anne, who kept a watchful eye over everyone. “Anne used to come in and keep an eye that I wasn’t too hard to them,” Ticey says with a laugh.
Irish Country Living speaks over the phone with Ticey, James and Tom. Ruth is in Dublin, where she’s studying radiography in University College Dublin (UCD).
James and Tom are at home studying for their Leaving and Junior Certs respectively. Quite an unsure time for both of them.
Ticey is milking 120 cows. He rears the bull calves for beef, selling them as yearlings. The Friesian heifers are kept for breeding and the surplus are sold off in-calf. He’s taking a break from calving for this phone call, but is keeping an eye out, as a cow is due to calve very soon.
Luckily, Ireland’s Fittest Family was shot during the summer in Kilruddery, Co Wicklow. Coinciding with calving would not be good for the Allens
Both James and Tom would love to be out with their father full time, but he’s adament for them to keep at the books during the day. They both help out daily once the school work is done, however.
Luckily, Ireland’s Fittest Family was shot during the summer in Kilruddery, Co Wicklow. Coinciding with calving would not be good for the Allens, who are coached by Donncha O’Callaghan in the competition.
True to their word, they’re keeping tight lipped on how they did in the final. So readers, we all will have to tune into RTÉ One at 6.30pm this Sunday to find out how they did!
Fitness and the farm
Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but the Allens have always been quite a sporty and fit family. Tom plays rugby, hurling and football. James is big into running, as well as handball and rugby. Ruth is also a runner as well as playing soccer and camogie.
Ticey himself played hurling and football up until he was about 21. “Then I stared working and it was a bit too risky then,” he explains. “If you get injured your job was more or less gone back that time. There was always someone to replace you, work was hard to get then. Before I started farming I was fitting kitchens.”
After giving up sport for a bit, Ticey rekindled his passion for running after he gave up cigarettes when Lilly was born, getting into endurance races and marathons.
Ticey feels farmers have a lot of other things to gain from exercising
“I started back running when I gave up the cigarettes. I was smoking probably for 15 years and I gave up the cigarettes. I said if I don’t do something else I’ll go back on them. I started doing event racing. So duathlons, which is a cycle and run. Also hill running as well. Then I started to do half marathons and that went on then to marathons.”
Alongside the physical benefits, Ticey feels farmers have a lot of other things to gain from exercising. As well as being a destresser and helping with mental health, pencilling in exercise can give structure on the farm where you’re the master of your own time.
As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. You lose that muscle tone or you lose the ability to do different things
“It helped me in relation to how you planned your day out, to be able to do a run in the evening or do a run on a Saturday or a Sunday. It really helped me organise my day in relation to farming, what needed to be done, the important things. It’s good to be able to get away from the work for a bit too,” Ticey says.
“Fitness is important, I think it’s vital in relation to farmers. I don’t think there are enough farmers getting out and doing some form of exercise. As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. You lose that muscle tone or you lose the ability to do different things.”
Well, there’s no shortage of fitness on the Allen’s farm, that’s for sure. Who knows though, in the future they might even start to fire up the tractor!