I’ve met a few people in recent days who were either going to or coming from the National Ploughing Championships which are taking place in Athy, Co Kildare this year. It is the national farming fiesta in Ireland!

It makes me recall my early years on our farm in Drimoleague and our intimacy with the land. There’s something very powerful in the experience of ploughing.It brings one into very close connections with the earth, with nature, with the cycles of life and death.

I remember my feeble early attempts at ploughing with a Ferguson 20 tractor and a two-sock plough under the watchful eye of my encouraging father. One has to look forward, backward and all around at the same time! Keeping a straight line, watching for stones, keeping the correct depth of sod all require great focus.

Along the way there’s time for the spirit to connect with the underlying reality. The remains of the grass on top are turned into the earth to become the fertiliser for the crop which is about to be sown. Its dying is not a tragedy. It’s part of the rhythm of nature, a rhythm to which we all eventually dance. Farmers seem to appreciate this easier than most of us.

Bandon moos!
Cattle graze on the banks of the River Bandon as it winds its way to Kinsale.