Denis Lehane: Ploughing week, we are rock stars

What an amazing week this is. Not only do we have the Ploughing Championships to enjoy, but my birthday is coming hard and fast after the event, writes Denis Lehane.

Next Saturday, September 23, is my big day.

I’ll be 47. But if truth be told, I could easily pass for 37.

Especially if the lights are toned down, and a handsome wig is plopped on my head.

Honestly, ’tis younger-looking I’m getting, with every passing decade. I must be some class of an agricultural Dorian Gray.

Anyhow, to mark the glorious event, this year yet again, a mighty fancy card arrived by way of the post.

A single solitary card. My one and only birthday card.

But isn’t it better to receive one than none at all?

As per usual, the card remained unsigned.

The mystery lingers on. No name was given, only a request that I enjoy my birthday, and that I keep on writing funny things.

And of course I will, for at this stage in my life, I’m fit for little else but writing.

Derek Ryan performing for Today with Séan O’Rourke in the RTÉ stand at the National Ploughing Championships, in the week all farmers are rock stars. Picture: Kinlan Photography

But, back to the card and the mystery of who’s behind it. It could be anyone really, I suppose, from the Queen of England, to the Pope himself.

From Anna May McHugh to Marty Morrissey.

I haven’t a clue who wrote the thing. Honestly I don’t. It’s like the third secret of Fatima.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d like to think the sender was of the female persuasion and, if I had to push the guess a little further, I would be delighted entirely if I discovered the card came from the likes of Kate Winslet.

Between you and me, I’ve had a soft spot for that girl ever since I saw her on the Titanic, and she holding out her arms attempting to embrace the world.

She’s a fine-looking woman. And a great actress to boot.

I’d watch her in the dullest of films. And I have. Any old film at all with her name attached to it is a winner in my book.

Of course, some fellows might wonder why Kate Winslet would send a birthday card to a farmer like me, and she out there in Hollywood or some place, surrounded by glitz and glamour.

Well, I suppose, in normal circumstances, I’d have to question it myself.

But this week is different.

On the week of the Ploughing, all bets are off, all is changed.

The farmer is suddenly in the spotlight and everything agricultural is hip and cool. From yard scrapers to slurry agitators, everything is sprinkled with stardust.

When you have 280,000 people attending the greatest open air show in Europe, and farming is at its heart, you know that if you are a farmer, you’re the king of the pack. We are rock stars for the week. The country’s top personalities, politicians and celebrities are all in Tullamore, all falling over themselves to get a look in. Everyone wants to be a farmer this week, or at the very least to rub off one.

Sending a birthday card to a farmer during Ploughing week, I imagine, is a bit like sending a card to Bono in normal times.

Kate was probably trembling in her boots at the prospect that I might receive it.

Well I did, and I was delighted to receive it.

The card is now proudly stationed up on the mantle piece, where it will remain brightening my days for the foreseeable future.

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