With their flat caps, half tans, and muddy shoes, farmers might be an unlikely choice of pin-up, yet every year thousands scramble to get their hands on the Irish Farmer Calendar, ogling the prime Irish beef within.
But the cattle’s out of the bag this year, and plans are being made to export our Irish beefcakes to a brand new market.
A book, featuring the last seven years of our largely topless farmers, is set to be published in the US, just in time for St Patrick’s Day.
“It all started because there was this book agent whose friend was looking for a man and said she wanted to date a farmer. So they were looking online and they came across the calendar and thought it was just brilliant,” said creator of the calendar, Ciara Ryan.
“So they are going to make a sort of coffee-table book featuring all the best shots of the last seven years. We had to take a whole load of extra shots this year to put in the book. They’re hoping to release it in March for Paddy’s Day. It will just be in the American market at first, to see how it does, and then it might be rolled out worldwide.”
The book will be published by St Martin’s Press, one of the largest English language publishers, which has produced books from Cecelia Ahern, Dan Brown, Ken Bruen, Wilbur Smith, and Jackie Collins.
Though the book will only be distributed in the US initially, Ciara said she still managed to get the publishers to agree to give 10% of the proceeds to Irish charity Bóthar. For the last seven years, a quarter of all the calendar proceeds have also gone to Bóthar.
“We got a great reaction to the calendar last year. It sold quite well. Every year it gets more popular,” said Ciara.
Last year, pictures from the calendar were featured in both Cosmopolitan and Grazia magazines, while the calendar itself was ordered by customers in locations including Brazil, Japan, Canada, the US, Australia, and South Africa.
“We were quite surprised with that because the calendar is quite rough and ready! So there’s no tan, no make-up or anything. The farmers are all very natural,” said Ciara.
“We find it hard to get guys for the calendar every year but the guys we do get are really up for it.”
Once such participant is Gareth Alcorn, who features in two images in the calendar — one where he’s taking a selfie with a lamb, and another where he’s boxing with a massive deer.
Mr August Gareth Alcorn from Co Kilkenny takes a selfie with a lamb, one of two calendar images in which he features.
His colleague Kieran Nippress, who also works at the Nore Valley pet farm near Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny, features in an image where he’s brushing a donkey’s teeth.
“I first got involved during the 2014 calendar.
“I work at the Nore Valley Park in Kilkenny and we have a mobile farm and Ciara rang me up to see if we could use it and take some photos with the animals,” said Gareth.
“And then they just happened to be short on farmers that day and they asked me would I do a photo and I just sort of ended up in it!”
Gerard Barker from Co Dublin and George Smyth from Co Kilkenny pose for the April entry in the 2016 Irish Farmer Calendar.
Gareth himself raised the deer he is pictured with in one photo — a tame, castrated male called Stanley, and he has taught the deer to ‘dance’.
“All I do is tap him on the jaw and he goes up on his back legs. We thought it would make a great photo so I put on boxing gloves and pretended we were fighting,” he said.
“It’s for a really good cause, for Bóthar, and we would support them anyway so we said we’d do it.”
Gareth said he doesn’t mind becoming an accidental pin-up, since it’s for a good cause, and is also looking forward to the publication of the book in the US early next year.
“I think it’s a great idea. It’s great for Ireland and it’s great for tourism. Anything that paints Ireland in a positive light is great. And it’s great that Bóthar are getting funds and publicity because they’re a fantastic charity.”
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