She has been quietly making her way across the ploughing arena over the past few years, and perfecting her own skills along the way. And as recently as eight weeks ago, the determined Newtownforbes woman, Cynthia Geelan was also elected to the chair of the County Longford Ploughing Association (LPA). In doing so, the local veterinary nurse became the first woman in the association’s 80 year history to hold the position of chairwoman, and she believes that her charge will help to develop and promote, not just the ploughing association’s ethos – but that too of life and the land - something Geelan holds very dear to own heart.
“I hope that my presence as chairwoman will encourage more young people to become involved in the ploughing association,” smiled Geelan, as she chatted to the Leader last week. “I want new and fresh ideas to emerge so that we can bring the association forward, and I want members to contribute as much as they can, so that we can encourage more and more Longford people to become involved in ploughing, and increase our presence on the national stage at the All-Ireland ploughing championships.”
Although, as she says herself, she has been sitting on a tractor since she was a baby, the new chairwoman of LPA only became involved in ploughing after attending a launch night in Ballymahon back in 2009, with her dad, Coote.
“That was the beginning of a whole new expereince for me,” she laughed, adding that the association needed a ‘farmerette’ and it was she who volunteered herself for the slot.
Although small in stature, Geelan is by now a noted ploughwoman who has excelled on the field many times. She is a regular at ploughing matches across the country and has done Longford proud in the national arena. She has also brought a whole new lease of life to the LPA through networking in her previous role as PRO of the committee, and her love of the land and ease with the people she meets, is quite simply, refreshing.
“Yes, I am the first woman elected to the chair of LPA,” laughed the Newtownforbes woman, before pointing to the fact that the opportunity was now right to bring “a new, fresh dimension” to proceedings. “I look forward to the challenges ahead,” she added.
Outside of the national ploughing championships, Longford holds the largest county ploughing match annually. LPA has come along way since its inception back in 1933, and indeed from the day the first ever ploughing match was held in Ballymahon. In 2012, the county secured no less than five All-Ireland titles at the national championships.
“LPA is an extremely successful organisation and the county has been very successful on the ploughing field over the years,” she explained.
“Eamon Egan [former chairman] is also responsible for the reintroduction of the Loy competitions at the All-Ireland and this is a very important aspect to all that LPA holds dear.
“The date has been set for this year’s county championships and they take place on the lands of the Reynolds Family, Barne, Edgeworthstown on Sunday, April 14 next. We are very excited about the event and are hoping that it will be bigger and better that anything witnessed before in Co Longford.
“I know I have big shoes to fill in my role as chairwoman because I am following in the steps of people like Eamon Egan, Tom Reynolds and John Coyle; but I believe that we can really develop the organisation and get more and more Longford people winning All-Ireland ploughing titles in the years ahead.”