Passing of three-time world ploughing champion Hugh Barr MBE
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A service of thanksgiving will be held this Saturday (10 June) in Ballylaggan Reformed Presbyterian Church at 2pm.
Mr Barr, from the Knockaduff Road, Aghadowey, was a life-long member of the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association.
The association said it was with sadness that they shared the news of Mr Barr’s death, and extended their deepest sympathy to his wife Kathleen and the family circle.
In 2015, Mr Barr won Farming Life’s Lifetime Achievement Award, described at the time as the “undisputed champion of the world” with his three consecutive World Ploughing Championships wins unrivalled.
As a young man, Mr Barr competed in Killarney in 1954 where he won his first World Ploughing Championships.
“After winning in Killarney, his Ransomes plough was exhibited at the Royal Smithfield show, which my father attended to help promote tractor ploughing,” a family member told Farming Life in 2014.
“After that his plough was shipped by Ransomes to the world match in Uppsalla, Sweden, and from there to the next world match in Shillingford, England.
“My father won both of these matches with an increasing points difference on each occasion. As defending world champion, he automatically qualified for both these matches and, as such, never competed domestically after his first win in Killarney.
“He had decided no matter what happened, he would retire after Shillingford. And so, as three times world ploughing champion he has every right to claim the title as undefeated champion of the world.”
The plough used in the three World Ploughing Championships was paid for using prize money Mr Barr had won competing at local matches, mostly in Counties Londonderry and Antrim.
As reigning world champion, Mr Barr travelled to Norway in 1954 and Sweden in 1955 to demonstrate world style ploughing in what were the early days of tractor work and competition.
He was “highly involved” with Ransomes who were the main plough manufacturer at that time, and made many trips to Ipswich to help with the development and refinement of new equipment, including work on one of the first reversible ploughs back in the 1950s.
Following his retirement from competitive ploughing, Mr Barr spent much of his life helping and encouraging many generations of fellow ploughmen in Ireland, both north and south, where he judged matches most Saturdays from November to March over the next three decades.
He was also involved at world level and acted as coach on many occasions, including Armoy in 1959 when Lawrence McMillan was to become a world champion and his brother Jack Barr finished third overall.
“There is no doubt that the performance of Hugh Barr has inspired the members of the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association to the heights they have attained, with further world titles won by Thomas Cochrane, David Wright, Samuel Gill and David Gill,” Farming Life heard in 2014.
“For such a small country it is a marvellous achievement surpassed only by Austria.
“He is extremely proud of the fact that the World Ploughing Association has been responsible for the great improvement in the standard of ploughing in countries across the world.”