NATIONAL PLOUGHING CHAMPIONSIPS – RATHENISKA
22 – 24 September 2015
This year the marquee for the Church of Ireland and organised and managed by the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory looked exceptionally splendid with its professionally designed and executed scenery. This was constructed by Mr Harry Harris, theatre designer and parishioner of Castlecomer, and looked pleasingly inviting with its colourful aspect both at the entrance and the interior which latter gave the fine appearance of depth to its dimension. The tent was designed to have an open, spacious feel, and to give a hint, of church at one end: the prayer space, which was entered through a doorway inspired by the Romanesque door at Killeshin. The Diocese was able to fund the expanded and professional design thanks to a generous grant from the Priorities Fund.
Meeting and Greeting:
Within this area, members of the CFO clergy and lay maintained a rota over the three days to meet and greet people, both known and visitors as they came in from the fray of the crowds and stands for a few moments respite, a sit down and this year were offered tea and refreshments. Over 800 cups of coffee and tea were served!
The special committee set up to carry out the organisation should be well pleased with their work, it was the largest and best display over the last few years when the Championships have been in the Diocese.
While it was left to the CFO to manage it all on the ground, the Committee acknowledges with thanks the monetary contributions from Priorities and the RCB. Although locally run, it did represent the Church of Ireland as a whole at the event.
The staging and surrounds were decorated to reflect the theme of the tent: the Church of Ireland – celebrating Harvest showing the produce of the land. A mosaic in the shape of a sheaf had been mounted on the wall and visitors were invited to write prayers of thoughts on post-its and attach them to the picture. There was also material on information about the Diocese to look at and read. Each visitor was invited to put their home location on a map and it was interesting to see where they all came from: as far afield as Ontario!
Other organisations had been invited to display their wares and we had representation from the Boys’ Brigade, the Grils’ Friendly Society, the Priorities Fund, the Mothers’ Union, the Bishops’ Appeal and Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise. In addition The Church of Ireland online bookshop: ‘The Book Well’ had a selection of material which could be purchased.
A novel idea was the facility of phone battery charging. On a day when people were wandering the extensive event and having to travel distances to and from their homes, it was useful for them to leave their phone on charge while having a cup of tea and a chat.
There was a competition for anyone to draw a Harvest picture on their table mat, and the judges are hard at work as we write coming up with the winning design.
Time for Meditation:
The centerpiece of the prayer space was an area of stones through which trickling water was being pumped: not just a peaceful meditative sound, but a reminder to all of the centrality of baptism in the Christian journey. In this area too was a large Bible which people could read and which was used for the hourly prayer time, which was led by a selection of different people and in which prayers were offered for farming, the local community and all who were attending the championships. The Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin the Revd Denis Nulty, and Archbishop Charles Browne, The Papal Nuncio, were also invited to lead the afternoon prayers on the Tuesday afternoon.
Comfortable couches and straw bales made this a pleasant place to sit quietly and pray.
Beaucoup d’Entente Cordiale!
We were pleased once again to be beside our neighbours from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and there was much coming and going between the marquees as a sign of our ecumenical co-operation. Bishop Burrows, Bishop Nulty and the Archbishop Browne led the prayers together at the official opening of the championships on Tuesday Morning.
Much coming and going was also in evidence between the Diocesan tent and the French Embassy opposite! This was the Embassy’s first time at the Ploughing and they were very grateful for all the help and advice we were able to give them. In return, champagne and canapés found their way on occasion to the C of I tent…..
Particular thanks should go to all who served the tea and coffee, were involved in transport of the materials and to the Revd Alec Purser who did so much of the local co-ordination. The special committee set up to carry out the organisation, headed by the Archdeacon, the Venerable Andrew Orr and his assistants should be well pleased with their work,
The MU changes babies!
Not too far way another arena of respite was busily engaged over the three days: the regular stand for the COI Mothers’ Union was in full swing offering mothers and young children some moments of rest from the crowds and for the very young a baby-changing service. This has been much appreciated over the years by the young mothers as they toiled through the displays and in need of a breather and attention to their young fledglings.