CITATION in honour of Tullamore Show and the FBD National Livestock Show delivered at the 62nd annual Dinner Dance of the Offaly Association [Dublin] and the 31st Offaly Person of the Year Award ceremony in Tullamore on Saturday, March 30th 2019. [Citation read by organising committee PRO, Peter Carter.]
IT gives me great pleasure to present to you this evening the 2018 and 31st Offaly Person of the Year award. This award goes to an organisation which has made an outstanding contribution to the farming, business, commercial and social life of Tullamore, Offaly, the wider Midlands and indeed the entire country for over two and a half decades.
For only the second time in the award’s history, it has been bestowed on an organisation, rather than an individual – the last occasion was in 2008 when the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann organising committee, formed of Offaly Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann members, was honoured.
The 2018 recipient is synonmous with all that is great about Tullamore and Offaly.
It has firmly placed Tullamore on the national and international map since its revival in 1991, not only in the agricultural field but, as it has expanded over the years, in the commercial, cultural, entrepreneurial and fashion arenas.
Now the top one day event of its kind in Ireland, if not in the whole of Europe, the 2018 award recipient attracts over 60,000 visitors each year to the Buttrefield Estate on the second Sunday of August.
The event’s success, has ensured its position as one of Ireland’s major attractions and its programme of events incorporates many elements including cultural, commercial and competitive interests, ranging from livestock, equestrian, home industries, inventions, vintage, fashion, style and performing arts.
Each August it hosts the crème de la crème of Ireland’s livestock in its national cattle and sheep competitions which attract the finest of entries from all over the country.
The 31st Offaly Person of the Year award recipient’s proud boast is “bigger and better” and each year the organising committee introduces some new aspect to the event at its 260 acre showgrounds site near Blueball.
The original idea for the event had germinated in the minds of a number of forward thinking people in Tullamore and its environs for many years but it was only when the first official Executive meeting took place on Thursday, Janaury 3 1991 that the dream began to become a reality.
Sponsorship was secured, judges were approached, experts in organising shows were leaned on for advice and a site was found at Collins Lane off the Arden Road for the first ever revived event in August 1991.
It proved a major success, thanks mainly to the hard working organising committee and their diligent band of helpers, and attracted huge local and national media interest.
The seed had successfully been sown and it blossomed over the following years moving to a majestic parkland site in the grounds of Charleville Estate on the outskirts of Tullamore.
Here it continued to grow and thrive but disaster struck in 2007 and the event had to be called off due to torrential rain at 7pm on the Saturday evening before the grounds opened early the following morning.
One of the key organisers of the event at the time recalled: “In the space of two hours the place became an absolute swamp and even the tents began to get flooded. There was a river of water running down the roads and it became clear to us that we were in big trouble. After 12 months of hard work from many dedicated people including 500 voluntary and the 35 Executive families, a meeting was called and though we were all in shock we agreed that we had no option but to call it off.”
After 14 years of successful events the organisers were faced with disaster with a bill of over half a million euro to contend with.
But such is the determination of tonight’s award winners that they dusted themselves down and with the generous support of their kind sponsors they resolved to continue on.
However, lady luck was not on their side. Unbelievably in 2008 the scene of torrential downpours was repeated and the Executive was forced to cancel that August’s event for a second year in succession.
But yet again the sponsors rallied around and the Executive revolved to keep the show on the road. However, they felt they had no option but to move to a new greenfield venue on the Butterfield Estate near Blueball and, together with the co-operation of local landowners and neighbours, the relocation has proved a major success.
Since 2009, the event has continued to go from strength to strength and is now firmly established on the national and international calendar as the leading one-day event of its kind in Ireland.
A testament to its standing is the high profile visitors it attracts each year including Government Ministers, Ambassadors, media and sporting celebrities, successful business people and the leading players in the agricultural and agri-food sectors.
But, of course, it is the 60,000 ordinary visitors and exhibitors who play such the key part in the success of the event each year.
As well as the trojan work of the Executive, the sub-committee members and the hordes of volunteers and helpers, the success of the event depends of the generosity of its sponsors, both large and small, which includes major firms such as Powers Gold Label, AIB and FBD. All of us in Offaly are deeply proud of this organisation’s achievements, their determination, their ability to overcome adversity and their contribution to Tullamore, county Offaly and the whole of Ireland.
Tonight we salute the 31st recipient of the Offaly Person of the Year Award and, ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to introduce to you the 2018 Offaly Person of the Year, Tullamore Show and the FBD National Livestock Show and I ask their Chairperson, Brenda Kiernan and Operations Manager, Freda Kinnarney to accept the honour.