Team Ireland has done well in the Olympics, especially when you consider the calibre of events that the Games throw up.

Who in their right mind made ping pong an Olympic event? 

To think a child’s pastime now offers grown men an opportunity to secure Olympic gold is hard to fathom. What will be next? 

An Olympic event for blowing bubbles in the bath? Ping pong, my backside.

Also, this beach volleyball business is surely a game that no Irish man will ever master. 

When you consider that we barely get enough summer in which to save a bit of hay, what chance would we ever have of spending an afternoon idling on the beach bouncing a ball up into the sky? 

There will be no beach volleyball in Ireland as long as there is grass left on the ground.

Yes, the Olympic events themselves are the greatest obstacle in our path to Olympic glory, and that is why, bar our two Skibbereen heroes, the Olympics will always prove to be such a hellish affair for the Irish.

So what type of events should be included? Well for starters, how about sheep shearing?

Isn’t this an event in which tremendous skill and fitness is required? 

You only have to look at Ireland’s Ivan Scott two weeks ago, when breaking a Guinness World Record for speed, to realise that the Olympics is all the poorer without the inclusion of sheep shearing.

Or how about ploughing? We nearly always have a world champion in that field.

Better again would be an Olympic event in which pulling ragwort is the main goal.

Having spent the weekend pulling yellow weeds myself, I know only too well now, with my back like Quasimodo, that you need to be as strong as an ox to succeed in this arena. 

Pulling ragwort in the Olympics would be a fantastic event, for not only would it test the endurance of the competitors, but it would also rid fields and roadsides of the noxious weed. 

Everyone would be a winner. Unlike ping pong, where even winners look like losers.

But there’s more. In Coachford, Co Cork, two events in the village festival deserve inclusion in the Olympic Games.

First, the wife-carrying race will surely test the mettle and indeed the marriages of many. This event is open to all wives, with wife swapping permitted, but only for the duration of the race. 

There are, of course, other rules, one being that husbands must carry wives by their own power alone, no foreign objects like wheelbarrows or harnesses will be allowed. 

Also, inflatable wives will not be permitted under any circumstances.

And a second event at the festival, which is sadly missing from the Olympics, is the tractor-building.

For many years, the men of Broomhill Vintage Club have taken on the world in the sport of taking apart and then rebuilding a tractor.

This weekend in Coachford, it’s the turn of the ladies.

Two rival teams will on Sunday rip apart a grey Ferguson and reassemble the thing faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

It’s high octane stuff, and a long way from ping pong.

Forget about Rio and their bouncy ball competitions.

If you want to witness real live action, and no doubt have some craic in the process, why not head to Coachford, where the carnival atmosphere will certainly surpass anything found on the streets of Rio.


John’s chairs will last a lifetime, but he is also passing on his knowledge to a new generation, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Made in Munster: The ancient art of súgán-making is woven into Irish family history

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