Women playing a central role in this year’s committee

Roscommon Ploughing Association Committee members Martina Beirne (Treasurer), Pauline Lavin, Mary Conry-Candler and Annmarie Lambert (PRO) pictured at the launch of the Roscommon Ploughing Championships last Thursday in Rattigan’s Bar, Kilrooskey. Pic: Kieran Croghan

“Women have been central to the farming community for years. Their roles just haven’t always been visible,” says Roscommon Ploughing treasurer Martina Beirne.

The Ballinaheglish native has been active with the county ploughing committee for the last number of years. Her father Paddy was a founding member of the association alongside its current chairperson, Padraig Nolan.

Martina was secretary for four years prior to taking on the role of treasurer and she also works alongside Mr Nolan at the National Ploughing Championships.

“I joined as a member and started off in the novice competitions. I won both novice classes I entered which was a huge achievement for me,” she said.

Martina said she had planned to progress to the Farmerette class and had even purchased a tractor before Covid-19 hit. Now, her son Dylan has taken up the mantle and will compete alongside Kate Hanley (daughter of John & Jacinta Hanley) in Sunday’s novice ploughing.

Martina, meanwhile, will finally have a crack at the Farmerette class and is hoping for a “good opening split”.

“It’s about keeping it good and straight after that and watching your ‘ins and outs’,” she says.

“I love it. My ploughing has always been good quality but then again I’ve always had good coaching!”

When it comes to female participation on farms and in ploughing, Martina believes encouragement is needed to break into what is a male-dominated world.

“I am acutely aware that female voices need to be amplified. The Ploughing Championships give us an opportunity to get involved. There are great examples including our outgoing chairperson Mary Conroy Candler and you saw how good our PRO Annmarie Lambert was at the launch,” she said.

Martina also highlights the success of Pauline Lavin, who took second place in the All-Ireland Junior Ladies’ Loy, as well as Deirdre Heavey who finished third, describing their achievements as “phenomenal”.

She says becoming a member of the ploughing association allows young volunteers the opportunity to develop skills such as team building, communication and organisation.

“I wouldn’t be able to sell the benefits of being a member enough,” she said.

“It’s a great way for young people, not just young women, to develop a wide range of skills as well as to develop any natural talents they already possess.

“As for the Ploughing Championships, it’s not all about the commercial and competitive side of things, there’s a great social side to it too. It’s a lovely event for people to come to and network or do business.

“It’s only since I’ve become involved that I’ve realised it’s not only farmers who go to the ploughing. According to the latest National Ploughing Association figures, there’s a wide range of different age groups there each year”.

Martina and the committee are still inviting participants for the Novice class, which takes place this Saturday (April 1st). The treasurer has been quick to highlight the benefits of getting involved to both young and old, male and female, and says this Sunday will be the perfect showcase of all that’s good about agriculture and ploughing in County Roscommon.

“We would welcome anyone who wishes to participate in the Novice match this Saturday. Contact roscommonploughing@gmail.com for further details or to express an interest,” Martina concluded.

You’re guaranteed a warm welcome to Derrane this Sunday as well as some good coaching, and who knows…it might be the start of something special!