Tuesday 21 November 2017

Remarkable Wexford success at ploughing championships

Hilary Murphy

When the 21st National Ploughing Championships were held at Killiane Castle for the first time in Wexford, in 1951, the veteran Wexford ploughman, Mick Redmond from The Ballagh, won the senior horse-ploughing title for the seventh time. He had created this winning record in 1932, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1940 and 1942.

Now that the National Ploughing event has expanded into one of the greatest rural spectacle in the country, it is fitting we should remember with pride the remarkable achievements of this modest fellow county man of yesteryear.

Other members of the Wexford team who helped Mick to carry off the team championship for the 13th time were Stephen Dempsey and James Shanahan. Redmond and Dempsey tied for first place for the best senior furrow (Pierce Cup).

A record number of around 25,000 attended the great event, including President Sean T. O'Kelly, accompanied by his wife and her niece, Miss Betty Ryan, of the prominent Tomcoole family. Two sisters of the Tomcoole family married the President O'Kelly who was given an enthusiastic reception.

The organising committee was led by Mr. Raymond E. Corish, President of Wexford Chamber of Commerce, along with Mr. T.D. Sinnott, County Manager (vice-chairman), and Mr. Dick Roche (secretary).

Two of England's best ploughmen took part - A.W. Pearce and Alfred Hudson, both from Sussex.

There were 106 entries altogether, 72 of which used horse-drawn ploughs. Eight county teams competed in the senior grade. There were six demonstrations of implements, some of which were new to Wexford farmers, and there was a large display of agricultural machinery by various firms.

Thousands assembled in the Bull Ring to hear the results that night and there was great jubilation when it was announced that Mick Redmond and the Wexford team had on the senior individual and team titles. Redmond had only the previous week won the premier title at the county championships held at Coolgarrow, followed by Stephen Dempsey, Cooraun, 2nd; John Kent, Campile, 3rd, and Edward Murphy, Wells, 4th. The reigning national champion was another Wexford man, Willie Kehoe, who had also won in 1941 and 1944. Other former Wexford winners had been Ned Jones in 1931, 1933 and 1937, and David O'Connor in 1938.

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