Michael Fisher  Northern Standard   Thursday 23rd June

Tydavnet Show is preparing for its 65th event in August, making it one of the longest running and most successful agricultural shows in Ireland. Once again the hard-working voluntary committee has been working busily behind the scenes since the end of last year’s show. It will be a show with something for everyone, young and old, from the cattle and horse enthusiasts to those competing in home industries and those who just want an enjoyable day out.

Every year at the launch of the show programme, the committee invites a guest speaker. In the past, they have included personalities such as the journalist Frank McNally, Mairead McGuinness MEP and last year the former Governor of Mountjoy prison, John Lonergan.

This year’s speaker they invited Tony Ward from Lough Egish. An accountant by profession, he is Director of Finance at “The Wheel”, the leading support and representative network for the community and voluntary sector in Ireland. In an inspirational address, he spoke about losing most of his sight when he was in his mid-20s, and overcoming the setbacks this impairment had brought. In recent years he has completed five marathons and three long-distance cycles, and has represented Ireland in middle distance races in the European and World Athletic Championships. He won a bronze medal in the word cross-country championships in Portugal in 2001.

Tony reminded the audience how in his earlier years he had played football for Aughnamullen and had suffered a number of bad defeats by Scotstown! He explained how he had grown up on a farm. When he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (a degenerative eye disease causing severe vision impairment), he said he was not sure what would happen to him in the future.

65 years of the Tydavnet show was an extraordinary and great testament to the local community. Tydavnet, after all, was not the centre of the universe — a comment that brought laughter from the attendance. But it was an incredible record and proof of a lot of hard work by local people. He pointed out that other Monaghan villages such as Latton, Cremartin, Magheracloone or Killanny did not have their own shows. Mr Ward hoped they would get good weather for the show.

He explained how he was really interested in sport and would sometimes get up early in the morning to go training, when he would usually have someone to accompany him. He spoke of how two winning athletes at the Sydney Olympics had explained that the secret of their success amounted to 10% self-belief, 10% talent and 80% hard work.

He said there was clearly a sense of community and dedication in Tydavnet. Their roots were in farming. The one thing he could think of when he received his diagnosis was the work he did on the farm to assist his father at weekends, putting on his wellingtons and doing chores like milking the cows. When his sight deteriorated he could still go out and bring the cattle into the milking parlour.

Tony told the audience it was really important to preserve country and farming life. He recalled how he used to read through the Tydavnet Show results in the Northern Standard. What the show committee had achieved so far was great and he hoped they would pass it on to the next generation.

PRO Barry Sherry welcomed the sponsors and said the show would not be a success without them. He welcomed representatives of the Armagh and Clogher Valley shows. He said Tydavnet remained one of the major shows in the country. It took a lot of effort and commitment for it to happen, with lots of hard work from the beginning of the year.

After a thirty-year absence they had revitalised the Show Queen competition. They held a very successful night in April when Sinéad McCarey from Barratitoppy was selected for the title. Unfortunately she was not able to join them for the launch of the show programme.

Chair of Tydavnet Show Peggy Treanor from Clontybunnia welcomed the national school pupils who were prizewinners in the art competition for designing the cover of the programme. She also thanked the sponsors, advertisers and judges for their support, as well as the landowners at Drumshevra for making the site available for the show. The stewards, helpers, committee members and officers had also shown dedication and enthusiasm and she thanked them all.

Prizes were presented to the designer of the cover for the show competition schedule and catalogue as follows:

1st prize, Aoibhe Genoe, Magherarney N.S., Smithborough. She received a €50 Eason voucher.

2nd prize, Grace Kelly, Tydavnet N.S.

3rd prize, Eimear Treanor, Tydavnet N.S.


09.30am Sportsman Jumping (clear round format)           10.00am Horse & In-hand Pony & Cob Classes commence
10.00am Riding Pony & Cob Classes commence
10.00am Home Industries & Juvenile Classes judging begins                                                                             11.00am Dairy & Beef Cattle Classes commence
11.00 a.m. Sheep Classes commence
11.00 a.m. Poultry & Eggs Classes commence
11.00 a.m. Trade Stands, Heritage Crafts, Vintage Exhibits, Demonstrations                                                                 1.00pm-2.00pm Fermanagh Harriers demonstration         2.00pm Working Hunter events commence                       2.00pm Bonny Baby Competition, followed by:             Grandparent and Grandchild Competition
Fancy Dress Competition (McELVANEY CUP)
Most Appropriately Dressed Lady (KERRY-LEE TROPHY)
Most Appropriately Dressed Teenagers
Little Miss Monaghan (3-5 years)                                             Little Mr Monaghan (3-5 years)                                            2.30pm Dog and Pet Show                                                     2.30pm Dancing on the Deck                                                                                               3.00pm approx. Riding for people with a Disability          4.00pm Children’s Fun Races                                           4.30pm Presentation of Cups – Home Industries & Juvenile  5.00pm Removal of Home Industries & Juvenile exhibits 5.00pm Tydavnet’s Fittest Family




Tydavnet Show Photo: © Michael Fisher

Tydavnet Show Photo: © Michael Fisher

Two months ago I wrote about the preparations for Virginia Show (Cavan) and also the Tydavnet Show in County Monaghan. Junior Agriculture Minister Tom Hayes TD praised the wonderful work and commitment of the various show committees who give their services to the community every year on a voluntary basis. The full extent of the efforts of the show committee became apparent at the showgrounds at Drumshevra between Tydavnet and Scotstown on Saturday 17th August.

Tydavnet Show President Henry Blackburn presents the cups Photo: © Michael Fisher

Tydavnet Show President Henry Blackburn presents the cups Photo: © Michael Fisher

After an early shower, the rain stayed off until the end, when the cups were being presented to prizewinners by the show President, Henry Blackburn. In just over a fortnight’s time, Henry will be losing his beloved tresses in a sponsored headshave in aid of Monaghan Cancer Treatment Support. The barber will be in place at Tydavnet community centre on Friday 13th (September) but hopefully Henry will not be superstitious!

Tydavnet Show Vice-Treasurer George McCarron Photo: © Michael Fisher

Tydavnet Show Vice-Treasurer George McCarron Photo: © Michael Fisher

One of the first volunteers I met at the showgrounds was my wife’s cousin George McCarron, a member of the Irish Farmers Association. This was the 62nd annual show and from what I saw of the exhibits, it was another great success.

Cart at Tydavnet Show Photo: © Michael Fisher

Cart at Tydavnet Show Photo: © Michael Fisher

Monaghan Vintage Club brought a number of exhibits to the show, including an old thresher.

Monaghan Vintage Club Thresher at Tydavnet Show Photo: © Michael Fisher

Monaghan Vintage Club Thresher at Tydavnet Show Photo: © Michael Fisher


Launch of Bailey's Champion Cow 2013

Launch of Bailey’s Champion Cow 2013

Meet Caislean Oman Rose. Her owner standing alongside her is County Dublin dairy farmer John Murphy, from High Down Hill in Newcastle (wearing a check shirt). He comes originally from Kerry. John is a member of the Irish Holstein Friesian Association and milks a herd of forty. The milk which was once supplied to Premier Dairies in Rathfarnham (Dublin’s last remaining dairy until 1997) now goes to Glanbia (formerly Avonmore Waterford) and is taken by tanker to Ballitore in County Kildare for processing.

Four months ago some members of the Irish Farmers’ Association held a protest at the Ballitore plant over the price being paid to dairy farmers for their milk. I do not know whether John was among them. But the price paid to suppliers is just one of the problems a small farmer has to contend with, another being the weather and the resultant fodder shortage.

Caislean Oman Rose was brought in for a photocall at the Diageo plant at Nangor Road Clondalkin in Dublin to launch the Bailey’s Champion Cow competition 2013, which will be held at the Virginia Show in County Cavan on Wednesday 21st August, four days after the Tydavnet Show in North Monaghan. This is the thirtieth anniversary and a special cake was produced to mark the occasion.

30th Anniversary Cake

30th Anniversary Cake

Last year the top prizes went to Ridge­field Dundee Portea, owned by Pat & Derek Fraw­ley, from Croagh in County Limerick. At the presentation of prizes by the late Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State for Agriculture, the Glan­bia Chair­man Liam Her­lihy said “these top Irish cows are pro­duc­ing milk for Bai­leys which ends up all over the world, so this com­pe­ti­tion is an excel­lent show­case for our dairy produce.”

Champion Cow Trophy

Champion Cow Trophy

The first winners of the perpetual trophy in 1983 were the Crawford brothers from County Fermanagh. Farmers from Northern Ireland are still keen to compete at Virginia, but the restrictions on cross-border movements of cattle mean that they have to have passed TB and brucellosis tests thirty days before they are allowed into the Republic. The strict regulations are set out in the information about the Charleville Show in County Cork, which is on next weekend (29th/30th June).  This requirement however means that the Northerners might not be in a position to send their cattle southwards, if their own shows (Antrim Agricultural Show on July 27th was one example) take place around the same time as another show in the Republic, as the Vice Chair of Holstein NI Gaston Wallace pointed out.


Minister of State Tom Hayes TD at Diageo Baileys

Minister of State Tom Hayes TD at Diageo Baileys

It’s that time of year again when the agricultural community shows off its best livestock and produce. One of the best known shows in the country is held annually at Virginia in County Cavan, beside the shores of Lough Ramor. This year’s event will be on Wednesday 21st August, four days after the Tydavnet show in North Monaghan. The Virginia Show has like many others several competitions in the different classes. But there is one cup in particular which the dairy farmers are interested in, the Baileys Champion Cow, now in its 30th year. More about that on another occasion.

The launch of this year’s event was at the Diageo Bailey’s global production plant at Clondalkin in Dublin. Mr Hayes spoke at a lunch with representatives from the company, the show and members (including myself) of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists. The recently appointed Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture (with responsibility for Forestry, Horticulture, the Greyhound Industry and Food Safety) is from Golden in County Tipperary and is a beef farmer, so he has a good knowledge of the agri-food sector.

The Minister praised the wonderful work and commitment of the various show committees who give their services to the community every year on a voluntary basis.  The Minister said the past few months with the fodder shortage had been difficult for farmers. But he was hopeful that with the sun appearing, things would improve over the summer. He referred to the important negotiations due to be held in Brussels next week on the future of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. He said he would be joining his colleague the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney who will be chairing the talks. He said the Irish Presidency (which runs until the end of this month) had brought the negotiations a long way. He was hopeful they could bring the CAP talks through to a conclusion, but it was a difficult task because there are now 27 EU member states at the negotiating table. It was going to be a tough week, he said, but he was looking to see the finalisation of the process by Tuesday evening or Wednesday, or as was more likely to be the case, by early on Thursday morning as these discussions had a habit of going down to the wire.

Minister of State Tom Hates TD & Liam Lavelle, President GAJ

Minister of State Tom Hayes TD & Liam Lavelle, President GAJ

In a week which has seen a controversy over sponsorship of sports by the drinks industry, the Minister commended Diageo for what he said was a very good sponsorship of the Bailey’s Cow. Diageo’s head of Irish operations David Smith spoke about the company’s plans for the future and said they were still committed to Ireland. On Monday the company, which also owns Guinness, denied it would scale down its plants in Ireland if drink companies were banned from advertising at big sporting events. Mr Smith referred to the investment of nearly €160m in what he said would be the most advanced brewery in the world at St James’s Gate in Dublin. The new Guinness brewery is under construction giving employment to 900 workers and is due to be fully operational next year. He also pointed to their investment of €3m at its Smithwick’s visitor centre in Kilkenny, recently announced.