BY JOHN SEXTON
At the annual general meeting of the National Ploughing Association (NPA), held in Abbeyleix on Thursday, April 27th last, Denis Keohane of Ballinascarthy was elected chairman of the executive committee.
A member of the Clonakilty Ploughing Association, Denis has given sterling service to the development of organised ploughing in West Cork and throughout the county in general. For many years, he kept the flag flying with Ballinascarthy Ploughing before joining-up with Clonakilty.
He has occupied several positions on the officer board of the County Ploughing Association over the past 50 years, and he was to the fore in supporting the move to grant Cork two-county status – West and East – back in 1985. This was brought about by the fact that the number of ploughing clubs in the county had grown to over 20, which was putting extreme pressure on competitors because of excessive travelling.
Denis has been a member of the national council of the NPA for over 20 years, and was vice-chairman of the executive committee for the past three years. He has seen the NPA grow by leaps and bounds to become a multi-million euro operation and, in addition to his work in seeing through the National Ploughing Championships each year, he has travelled abroad with the Irish team to the World Championships on a number of occasions.
The Clonakilty Ploughing Association gave Denis Keohane a rousing welcome home on Thursday night with a parade through the town, followed with a reception in the Brewery Bar. In an address of welcome, Gordon Jennings, who presided, said that it was a proud moment for the Cork West Ploughing Association to have one of their members bestowed with the highest accolade of the National Ploughing Association, and added that Denis was deserving of our greatest congratulations.
The chairman of the Cork West county association, Kieran Keohane, said that this honour was long overdue to the county, which had so many prominent ploughmen and ploughing clubs. He said that the last man from the county to hold this position was Larry Sexton, Courtmacsherry, of the Timoleague Ploughing Association back in 1961.
Vincent Beechinor, Clonakilty Ploughing Association, who also spoke, said that Denis Keohane was a very broadminded man, who would always put the interest of the common good before everything else. John Sexton, Timoleague Ploughing Association, said that guiding a multi-million euro institution requires a sound head and great organisational experience and Denis Keohane is a man with all these requirements, who always lets the head rule the heart.
The NPA, he said, had made massive strides, both at home and abroad, during the past 50 years and shows every promise of continuing and that Denis Keohane is destined to play a leading role in that respect.
Responding, Denis gave a brief outline of his experience at national level during the past 20 years, which he felt gave him the qualifications to seek this position. He was ever-grateful to the many people from both Cork county ploughing associations who gave him such outstanding support.
Denis acknowledged his home GAA club, St Oliver Plunkett’s, and both the Ballinascarthy and Clonakilty Ploughing Associations, which gave him the taste for organisational activity, but said the ploughing was always closest to his heart.
In a year in which we celebrate the centenary of Henry Ford’s motor company coming to Ireland – a man whose roots were in Ballinascarthy – how fitting it is that a man from the area takes on the leadership of the NPA, which organises Ireland’s largest outdoor event, the National Ploughing Championships.