Dairy farmer Pat Doyle is joining the ranks of those competing at the National Ploughing Championships for the first time this year. He will compete in the senior three-furrow class less than a year after he first began to plough seriously.
“I started thinking about competing last year, the older lads in the parish encouraged me. I said I’d make a bust at it,” he says. “I started practising before Christmas, beginning in stubble fields. There’s a lot involved from setting up the tractor, getting the plough ready and getting out and practising. I’m ploughing with a conventional three-furrow Kverneland plough. ”
He hasn’t been alone in the process, though, having two mentors to guide him.
“Ned Conway and Tommy Grennan have taught me all the principles, they’ve been a great help to me getting started.
“The boys explained things like the settings for the plough, how to take off and add on different pieces to the plough and ploughing depths.
“I wouldn’t be in it without them, they’ve given me great guidance over the year. The greatest advice they ever gave me was to calm down and drive steady,” says Pat.
“My first competition was back in January, on home soil in Tullogher. It was a learning experience, the atmosphere at the event was great. I had great encouragement from my mentors, which spurred me on.”
And while the Tullogher man had no competitive ploughing before this year, there is some ploughing in his pedigree.
“My grandfather had an interest in ploughing, that’s where my interest in ploughing started. We’d go to local ploughing matches and up to the National Ploughing Championships for the day.”
“The hardest thing about ploughing is getting the time to practise,” he adds. “The small details matter, knowing when to do the right things. I’m a dairy farmer so it’s hard to get time to practise with everything going on.”