Ice-cream stalls and 13-year-old sheep shearing commentator star on day two of the Ploughing

As the sun beamed down on gleaming tractor cabs the biggest attractions were the icecream vans and frozen yoghurt stalls.

Ice-cream stalls and 13-year-old sheep shearing commentator star on day two of the Ploughing

Seasoned plough-goers usually relish the opportunity to scoff at rookie attendees who are unaware of the level of mud and muck that the event usually produces.

There are always the poor unfortunates who arrive at the National Ploughing Championships in ankle boots or worse still runners.

However, it was the welly-clad few (including this reporter) who were inappropriately dressed as they sweltered in their rubber boots.

But the mild discontent suffered by wellington wearers was nothing compared to the poor sheep.

Some 45 specially selected lambs had to wait in their winter woolies until 4pm when the finals of the national shearing competition kicked off.

The heat in the shearing tent, where a stage and three pens had been set up for the finalists, made the smell of lanolin that lingered in the warm air even more pungent.

With the first sheep pulled from each of the pens, 13-year-old Sean Dunne took to the microphone with the same passion, pace and knowledge as many of the great pundits.

"Johnny Patterson now... down the flank and out the back leg he goes... the Donegal man."

Without taking a breath, he continued: "From Fermanagh Stanley Allingham ... how many has he left in the pen? He has seven left in the pen... pulling another out now, he is in the lead."

Putting it up to greats like Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Sean O'Hehir the commentary spilled from his lips at rapid pace as the three finalists each held a sheep between their legs deftly manoeuvring them around the floor as the shears became an extension of their body.

"Johnny P on stand number 1 on his ninth sheep on they go as Stanley pulls out sheep number 11. Stanley is having a cracking shear up there," the Wicklow teenager exclaimed.

In the end it was Stanley Allingham who claimed the title of top shearer.

Afterwards, Sean explained that he went 'professional' with his commentating about two years ago and travels to around six or seven shows a year.

Parasols replaced the usual umbrellas at the second day of the ploughing.

As the sun beamed down on gleaming tractor cabs the biggest attractions were the icecream vans and frozen yoghurt stalls.

So much so that Lisa Clarke had to phone the factory back in Kileshandra, Co Cavan to send for extra supplies.

Crowds enjoy the sunshine at the Ploughing. Picture: Dan Linehan
Crowds enjoy the sunshine at the Ploughing. Picture: Dan Linehan

By mid-afternoon, her stall had sold 2,000 pots of Yomega3 greek style frozen yogurt.

There was a relaxed atmosphere as 113,000 students, farmers, politicians and families all mingled around the stands and stalls.

The usual complaints of soggy boots and rainsoaked bodies were replaced with concerns about marquees overheating.

But the ploughing organisers were just relieved that the roof literally didn't blow off any tents, unlike last year when the event was cancelled on one of the days due to the stormy conditions.

"I never have experienced so many very young people here which is very important. Yesterday I had the little 15-day-old baby here and there are very young children here. It's good to see the schools well represented here too and there is plenty for them to see," said Anna May McHugh, managing director of the National Ploughing Association

We're so happy that the weather is good, first of all for the exhibitors and for our ploughing competitors, and in particular for the people that come to support the event, that they have enjoyed the weather here in the sunny southeast.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to visit the site tomorrow for the final day of ploughing, where he will inspect the plots.

Last year Mr Varakdar managed to put his foot in it when he marched across a piece of furrowed land causing alarm among some of the competitors.

The soil this year is in perfect condition

"It's dry for the horse ploughing because it's grassland, but for the ploughing competitors with their tractors and ploughs it's just perfect," said Ms McHugh.

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