THIS week-end (Bank Holiday Monday) will see the fifth annual Irish Harvest-Day being staged by the De Courcey Vintage Society. From small beginnings four years ago, this event has mushroomed into a spectacle which has captivated the imagination and admiration of the public, not alone from the local area, but from all over the county and beyond.
This year the site moves from Barrell’s Cross to Ballinadee, on the lands of Paddy and Ann McCarthy, a place that has a long association with harvesting, threshing and milling.
Paddy’s family, on his mother’s side, were the Hales’ of Knocknacurra, well known in the pages of Irish history. At one time the Hales’ would have had five steam threshing sets travelling around the country.
In the early 1950s the McCarthys bought one of the first Claas combine harvesters, and Tommy Hales and P J McCarthy (both uncles of Paddy’s) visited the Claas factory in Germany and saw the combines being manufactured In 2013.
It was the Claas harvesters (both old and new) that led the way, as over twenty of them in their bright yellow colours provided quite a spectacle.
They were balanced-off in vintage style by the presence of a dozen or so Fordson and David Brown tractors (of a far-off era), ploughing, harrowing and tilling.
Then there was that mighty Clayton Thresher operated by the O’Sullivan brothers of Caheragh, which attracted a gallery of admirers. Several more activities from the vintage era, like the stone grinder operated by Raymond White, proved quite an attraction for the thousands present, who came to see the activities of an Irish Harvest Day and appreciate the hardship which their forebears had to go through to eke out a living back then.
For 2014, activities were pretty similar except for the fact that it was New-Holland combines that led the way, and in brilliant sunshine the bright blue and yellow shone out like a beacon for so many to celebrate on an Irish harvest day’.
This year it’s open territory for all makes of combines and tractors, and chairman John O’Neill revealed at the recent Launch that they expect many more combines and tractors of a by-gone era.
This year’s event is titled ‘a century of change’ and the official opening will be performed by Michael Moroney, the Machinery & Vintage editor of the Irish Farmers Journal.
The fact that a man of his status sees fit to come down here is indicative of the prestige and fame which the event has established over the past two years. The harvest working day now features working areas with continuous activity. For this year, harvesters, reapers, and binders, and every sort of machinery associated with the harvest, past and present will be working throughout the day.
Many horse operated machines will also be working during the day. So, to the rising generation, we say – if you want to see how your forebears performed their farm tasks, Ballinadee is the place to be on Monday next.