Mullahead set for centenary

Over 200 members, sponsor, dignitaries and friends of Mullahead & District Ploughing Society gathering for the centenary launch dinner, on Friday night in Craigavon Civic Centre.

A delicious four course dinner was followed by entertainment from William Caulfield.

Billy McCullins and Gareth Williamson pictured with William Thompson and Kenny Gracey from Mullahead Ploughing as he welcomes Bank of Ireland as a Sponsor. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

Billy McCullins and Gareth Williamson pictured with William Thompson and Kenny Gracey from Mullahead Ploughing as he welcomes Bank of Ireland as a Sponsor. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

Organisers were delighted to hear from local councillors, mayors, politicians and sponsors just how much Mullahead is valued as an attraction and tradition in the local area and how much it is looked forward to year on year.

The Ploughing Society also took a moment to remember Hugh Richardson (Richardson Estate) who sadly passed away last year. Without the generosity of Hugh and the Richardson family, affording the society the use one of the best sites in the country, Mullahead would not be possible. To mark the gratitude of the Society the Richardson’s were presented with a beautifully carved walking stick by the NI Stick Carvers Association and kindly cut the cake to officially mark the centenary celebrations.

As a little momento of the evening, each guest was treated to their very own “Mullahead” mug and chocolate fashioned in a horse’s head.

A most enjoyable evening was had by all and the countdown is now well and truly on until the 28th February when the 100th event takes place outside Portadown.

To celebrate the centenary, the society have plans to make this year one of the best matches yet. Attractions will include:

r 15th Ulster Horse Ploughing Championships – 50 pairs, 100 horses for 100 years.

r 13th All Ireland Ferguson Ploughing Championship

r Tractor Pulling

r Special prize draws

r Trade Exhibits and much much more

r Something for all the family.

Mullahead Annual Ploughing Match has grown since its foundation in 1912 to become the largest one day event of its kind in the British Isles. At the end of February thousands of spectators, young and old, descend on the quiet corner of County Armagh to enjoy this unique event. Year on year both horse and tractor ploughing competitors return from all over the UK, with Mullahead being the highlight of the ploughing calendar.

Teams of finely turned out horses work in unison across the Richardson Estate, making for a spectacle long forgotten in today’s world. The tractor ploughing classes showcase a range of styles and techniques from vintage tractors to modern day machines. Take a moment to chat to one of the judges or competitors and you will soon understand the level of precision and skill required to win.

Ploughing is not the only horsepower on display.

Mullahead also boasts an impressive machinery display with local dealerships turning out in force.

The annual tractor pulling competition is a major attraction with dozens of competitors battling to be crowned the winner. Crowds line the track, cheering on friends, family or those with the brand of tractor to which they are especially biased. Live music and commentary adds to the competitive atmosphere bringing the event to life.

For those born to shop, the “Tesco Tent” is full to the brim of local food producers sampling and selling their delicious produce.

Always popular is the Craft Village which features numerous exhibitors from across the Province, selling everything from cupcakes to handbags. Throughout the day, visitors are also given the chance to enter one of the prize draws with huge prizes to be won including machinery, P&O trips and one of the coveted pedal tractors.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist agriculture spokesperson and Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has praised the organisers of the Mullahead Ploughing Match, describing the annual event as a “yearly magnet for investment and tourism”.

Mrs Dobson made her comment following the official launch of this year’s event which took place recently at Craigavon Civic Centre.

She said: “This year, the annual Ploughing Match at Mullahead is set to be even bigger and better.

“It all happens because of the generosity of the Richardson family and this year, which will be the first year without ‘Mr Mullahead’ Hugh Richardson, will be tinged with a sense of sadness.

“Mr Richardson was a true gentleman and because of his drive and support the society are able to yearly attract thousands from across Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, The Republic of Ireland and further afield flocking to the local area.

“We should all be extremely proud that this event takes place in Upper Bann and year on year showcases the richness of our land and the skills and technique of the competitors.”