John wins World Ploughing title
43-year-old John Whelan of Ballinruane, Ballycullane, won the world champion title in Olds College, Alberta, Canada on Saturday.
The Ballycullane Ploughing Association man's amazing success follows on from the success of former three time world champion Martin Kehoe, also of Ballycullane in the 1980s and 1990s.
Mr Whelan, who is already twice European ploughing champion, won the 60th world ploughing championship, and is returning home today to a hero's reception in the Seven Oaks Hotel in Carlow.
Speaking afterwards the father-of-four (Stephen, Sean, Katie and Padraig), said: 'Over the last 12 months I've had an awful lot more confidence in my ploughing but you need to be going well to have that confidence. I always said I would retire but I don't know now when I'm enjoying it. It's going to be party, party, party when I get back to Ireland.'
The prestigious Golden Plough trophy was presented to him at an awards ceremony in Alberta while more than 50 Irish supporters, including his wife Margaret (nee Redmond) of Crossabeg, looked on. The attendance at the awards ceremony included Anna May McHugh, director of the National Ploughing Association.
Earlier in the weekend Mr Whelan came first in the Stubble Reversible Plough section, winning the gold medal for the section and Eamonn Treacy of Co. Carlow had come first in the Stubble Conventional section.
When news of Mr Whelan's victory reached Ballycullane early on Sunday morning, members of the 60 member Ballycullane Ploughing Association, the largest ploughing association immediately organised bonfires and celebrations for his homecoming to Ballycullane, which is expected to take place tonight.
Local officials including Dick Byrne, Michael Keating and Jimmy Kent are organising the homecoming.
Secretary of County Wexford Ploughing Association, Michael Shanahan said: 'It's a great day for County Wexford. It's a first to have two world champions from one club. We are absolutely delighted and we're off to Dublin to welcome him home. It's well deserved and it couldn't have gone to a finer man.'
Mr Shanahan said a function will be held for Mr Whelan in County Wexford over the coming weeks to mark his amazing success.
He said it would be Wexford's loss if Mr Whelan retired saying he would have plenty more opportunities for major success in ploughing.