They say that true tradition lives on forever and perhaps never was there a truer word spoken when it comes to the land and methods of tillage. At the end of this month a unique festival in Kenagh will feature all that is good about the land, highlighting in particular the art of making hay and the role that horses played in rural life in days gone-by.
On Sunday July 29 next at 1pm the Midland Draught Horse Society will present an All-Horse Hay Making Day & Carriage Racing Demonstration and Field Day at Glanmore, Kenagh, Co Longford. The event aims to bring enthusiasts from all walks of life to the picturesque south Longford village where a platform will be provided to showcase all the very best in old rural-Irish traditions.
Proceedings kick off with the hay-making event which incorporates all aspects from mowing to making a cock of hay and will also feature draught horses saving a field of hay, using old restored horse drawn machinery. Observers on the day will also be provided with a unique opportunity to watch a carriage driving supremo with Paddy Hanley racing his horses through an obstacle course. There will also be a horse shoe throwing competition which includes the qualifiers for the All-Ireland event at the National Ploughing Championships in September. Members from the Irish Draught Horse Society will also be on hand as they continue in their endeavours to preserve the Irish Draught Horse.
Kenagh native, Eamon Egan has been instrumental in the organising of this unique festival, which takes place in just a few days time. His love for and deep knowledge of the land is heart-warming and he also has the privilege of being the proud owner of a pair of beautiful draught horses. “We are trying to preserve the skill of the draught horse at the moment, because there are only a few men dotted around the Country that have it,” Mr Egan said. “The festival provides us all with an opportunity to showcase the skill and highlight its importance to the land. In days gone by, every farmer had to provide his own horse power, so to speak, to provide his own tillage, and I really do believe that there is a future for this type of thing.”
While there are currently a number of draught horse breeders in Ireland – including JP Finnegan in Newtowncashel – most horses end up bound for the export market and placed in international equestrian centres. “Breeders mainly export now,” Mr Egan continued. “One of the most unique horses for working the land was the Draft Cobb, that was a Dollie type of a horse and was ideal for working the land. In recent times there has been a breakthrough with the Irish Draught Horse Society and there is now more and more recognition towards draught horses and what they represent. The festival in Kenagh is one which horse lovers should not miss and it is guaranteed to be a great day out for all the family.”
Also working on the day will be two old machines – Swart Turner Pearce and Hay Kicker - which have both been lovingly restored by Mr Egan. Other events include, a Carriage Run which will depart from Lissglassock House at 12pm and return at 2pm. There will also be a free horse and Carriage ride for everyone and entry into the draw for a hamper of goodies to the value of p100. The day’s activities will also include a dog-show. Further information can be obtained from Eamon Egan (087) 2157608 or Joseph Egan on (087) 6248545.