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Monday, 29 September 2014

The X-tractor

Charlie Keegan and co at the Ploughing Championships, Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow,
17 July 1962
It’s a very scenic rural picture – a young boy in short trousers sits on the back of his father’s tractor as he is ploughing. In the distance, you can see the gentle rolling mountains, and the cloud-covered sky. Then you notice the three men in suits, and wonder if a film noir gangster flick took a wrong turn when changing locations.

Instead, it is the singular Charlie Keegan at the Ploughing Championships in Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow in 1962. The little boy is his son, Alan, looking very proud of his father’s skills. And so he should, because two years later Charlie would go on to win the World Ploughing Championship in Austria, a feat not repeated by a competitor from the Republic of Ireland for another 30 years.

Though sophisticated modern readers may find it amusing, the winning of this title was considered a big achievement at the time. Charlie was met at the airport by enthusiastic crowds and he and his Golden Plough trophy were carried shoulder-high from the plane into the terminal building.

Charlie Keegan arriving home with his Golden Plough,
4 October 1964
The very same tractor as seen in this photograph once again took pride of place at this year’s Ploughing Championships. Charlie’s grandson, Michael, had led the charge to restore the Deutz D40 tractor that had won the world title. He had managed to source the original tractor not far from his family home, though he had to go to England to source parts for the exact model of plough that Charlie had used. If you want to find out more about the story of the restoration, you’ll find all the details on the Waterfall Farm blog. 

Apparently, the next project for Michael is the restoration of the D15 tractor Charlie was presented with by Deutz after his triumph. Once again, the Lensmen photographers were present for this even, as were Charlie’s two sons. This tractor is now also sitting in Enniskerry, crying out for a lick of paint. Maybe both Keegan tractors will be present at the 2015 Ploughing Championships, perhaps inspiring a new generation of grandchildren to keep the legacy alive.

Presentation of the D15 tractor, 15 December 1964

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