The sun shone down on the 80th annual Co Longford Ploughing Championships which were held in Edgeworthstown last Sunday.
And it surely was a day to remember. They came from all over the county, spectators and competitors alike and thousands of people eventually passed through the wonderful site on the Reynolds family farm in Cranleybeg by close of business on Sunday evening.
95 competitors took to the field in all classes of ploughing events from Loy to horse and tractor ploughing. Even country and western singing star Mick Flavin was on hand in the horse ploughing section.
During the launch of the championships two weeks ago, Secretary, Longford Ploughing Association (LPA) Tom Bannon said the Longford championships was the second biggest ploughing event - outside of the National Ploughing Championships - in the country. “That is down to the support and dedication of our members and to the continuous support of our sponsors,” he added. “The ploughing championships have put Co Longford on the map.”
Speaking at the weekend’s ploughing championships in Edgeworthstown, Secretary, National Ploughing Association (NPA), James Sutton pointed to the organisation’s milestone in reaching its 80th anniversary. “What a wonderful day and what a great site?,” Mr Sutton remarked. “As we all know, events like this do not take place without a huge effort from the people behind the scenes. There are 95 competitors here today and we have some of the top ploughmen in the country; any time I come to Longford ploughing I have a wonderful time; it is a fantastic day out for all the family.”
Meanwhile, Mick Falvin also paid tribute to all those involved before blasting out a few much loved and familiar tunes to the large crowd gathered in the sunshine. “It is a real pleasure to be here today,” he added. “I never realised a good plough until I came up here, so thanks to everyone for a great day.”
During the blessing of the site by Cannon Albert Kingston and Fr Michael Bannon, they told those gathered that the soil was a “source of growth” nurtured by those who appreciated it. “We thank those who cultivate and toil the soil; those who work in partnership with God - God’s faithful in nature,” added Cannon Kingston. “To those who plough the land, may God grant them a steady hand and a keen eye to plough a straight furrow, and may they remain patient and safe.”
Then it was time to remember all those associated with the Country Longford Ploughing Championships, now gone to their eternal rest. “We remember all those who may have been here last year, but are not here today,” said Fr Bannon. “St James tells us to be patient until the coming of the Lord; the farmer waits for the precious fruits of the earth; be patient and establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord.”
Then it was back to ploughing, the dog show, the numerous trade stands, the bouncy castle and activities for all the kids to enjoy, the delicious and tasty food and abundance of local musical entertainment. “Thank you so much to everyone who supported and helped this year’s event in any way,” said chairperson, LPA Cynthia Geelan. “We are very grateful to everyone and delighted with the day.”
NPA President, Anna May McHugh also sent her best wishes to LPA last Sunday, despite the fact that she was unable to make it on the day. “On behalf of the NPA, I wish to congratulate Co Longford Ploughing Association in their celebration of 80 years,” she said, adding that it was a “great achievement” for any county. “Longford have a long history in loy digging, horse ploughing and tractor ploughing and are proud holders of many successes at national level. This annual event attracts competitors from all over Ireland and is recognised as a very entertaining day for all the family. Longford Ploughing deserves recognition for all the great work. Happy 80th birthday; a pleasant day and good competition for all.”