Six scholarships and 25 cattle for lucky students at Ploughing

If you weren’t soaked to the skin on Wednesday at Screggan, you weren’t at the Ploughing Championships, writes Denis Lehane.

If there is one thing we do well in this country, it’s running a ploughing event.

And if there is a second thing we do remarkably well, it’s supplying an outdoor event with plenty of rain.

Sometimes, when it decides to rain here in Ireland, it forgets to stop.

If you weren’t at the Ploughing on Wednesday, it was more akin to a mud-wrestling event than a ploughing event.

The rainwas unceasing.

It got everywhere.

It went down your back, into your wellingtons, and even inside your pants.

It would have been immensely upsetting, if it wasn’t the Ploughing. At the Ploughing, nobody gives a damn.

If you weren’t soaked to the skin on Wednesday at Screggan, you weren’t at the Ploughing!

However, an exception has to be made for RTÉ personality Miriam O’Callaghan, who was in attendance at the Irish Angus Producer Group stand, and remarkably managed to appear as dry as a martini.

Together with National Ploughing Association managing director Anna May McHugh, Miriam was on hand at the Irish Angus Producer Group’s stand to present the current Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition finalist schools with their five Irish Angus cross calves.

A total of 25 cattle were presented to 18 thrilled transition year students.

The competition run by the Irish Angus Producer Group with processor partners ABP Ireland and Kepak Group, aims to encourage second-level students to gain an understanding of the care and attention required to produce and market the highest quality beef for consumers.

Each year, five school groups are chosen to receive five Irish Angus cross calves.

As part of their Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science project, the students are required to set milestones through the lifetime of the animals, rear them through to slaughter, and visit processing and retail facilities to understand how the food chain works.

The project aims to allow students apply their classroom knowledge to a real life setting. Each finalist school receives the financial benefit involved in selling the animals to the processors on completion of the project.

The winning students also receive an additional grant of €2,000 for their further education.

The five finalist schools presented with Angus stock at this year’s Ploughing were Glenamaddy Community School, Co Galway; Ashbourne Community School, Co Meath; Davis College, Mallow, Co Cork; Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown, Co Roscommon; and Laurel Hill Secondary School, Limerick.

Young people in farming were in the limelight too at the Irish Hereford Breed Society stand on Wednesday, where the organisation, once again in collaboration with Slaney Foods and Lidl Ireland, announced the winners of their annual agricultural bursary competition.

Now in its second year, this competition offers students in agriculture an opportunity to further their agricultural education by awarding five bursaries of €1,000 each to successful applicants.

Minister of state for food, forestry and horticulture Andrew Doyle was on hand at the Ploughing Championships to do the honours on the Hereford stand.

This year, to the delight of the finalist students, the number of bursaries on offer increased from five to six. And the six lucky student winners are Lorraine Delaney, Andrew Hanbidge, Catherine Smyth, Lesley Lewis, John Mahon and Noel Bardon.

Pat McCarthy, president of the Irish Hereford Breed Society, said: “The bursary awards are more than simply about highlighting the Hereford animal, but offering students an opportunity to excel in agriculture, in whatever field they choose. It’s all about looking to the future.”

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