Report on Moynalty Steam Threshing Festival 2015

The Annual steam Threshing Festival 2015 was our 40th Event and much preparation was put into celebrating this nostalgic occasion.

Earlier in the season it was decided to publish a record of events for the past forty years “Celebrating forty years of Steam Threshing at Moynalty”. The book was launched on Friday 31st July by John Donohoe news editor of the Meath Chronicle The Museum was suitable arranged, and one of  our local harpists Aine Allen render beautiful music and accompanied  Soloist Deirdre Gilsenan of Celtic Woman Fame and her brother Matthew from the Celtic Tenner’s as they entertained us. I think this evening was a fitting lead in to the festival  about to be celebrated on Sunday 9th August.

 On Saturday evening as the preparations were well in hand the usual pre-festival events took place with a ‘Tractor Run’ the proceeds of which were donated to the Alzheimer’s Society-Meath Branch. High –Nelly enthusiasts were also out in force, and the highlight of the evening was the pre-festival parade of Steam Engines through the village.

Sunday morning dawned bright and clear with many Steward s and helpers in their allocated positions at 6 am. The day itself was tinged with sadness as news filtered through that our colleague and friend John Sheridan had passed away to his eternal reward. John was our first Chairman and guided the Steam Threshing Committee for its 1st twenty years. As is mentioned in our book “Celebrating forty years of Steam Threshing at Moynalty” every threshing that was held during that time was as good as, or better than the previous one. He is also quoted as saying that ‘He enjoyed every one of them’. The Committee gave a special salute to the memory of John at 3 pm when all the steam engines sounded their whistles and observed a three minute silence. Ar deis Dia ar an Anaim.

Back to the day itself it was one of the best days weather-wise that we had for months. During the days leading up to the event there were many late nights putting the final touches to the whole area where the festival was taking  place. We did try to have many of the events from former years re staged.  The Corduff Marching Band led the parade from the village. No doubt this recalled happy memories for the members of the Maio School band who paraded for many years. We are blessed to still have Harry Rowntree and his McLennan steam engine head up the parade. One of Harrys sons return from Australia each year to help him with this arduous task- long may he continue to lead us on.  The Sheridan Ransom Threshing Mill is still in tip-top condition and was also in the parade forty years age. The Glynn Family Carlow, Mickie  Branagan  Castlewellan. Tom Tynan and Gerry Doherty were all part of the event, as were many others too numerous to mention.

Our patrons came from North & South, East & West - indeed we had many visitors from further afield as our visitors books testify. We have had many congratulations on another successful day which would not have been possible without the help and dedication of all our volunteers – at least 250 in number. We did try to make our 40th a memorable occasion for young and not so young alike. The harvest field was a hive of activity with cutting the corn with scythe, Horse drawn reaper and binder tractor drawn machines. An exhibition of tying the corn with bands was displayed with many enthusiasts   trying their hand. The Horse men displayed their skills at ploughing and tilling. Robert Steike Master Harness Maker had his horse on parade dressed in his fine ‘Horse harness and shiny brasses’.

The ‘Timber Sports” was a magnificent display of skill.

The Threshing Arena- the heart of the show – was very popular as usual with its three mills busy threshing the corn to the enjoyment of the many spectators. This area also hosted a display of ‘Flax Scutching’ ably demonstrated by Patsy Connolly his family and other helpers. Quern Stones grinding the corn were also been demonstrated as were many other skills from by- gone days. Butter Churning was as popular as ever with the sales of butter and butter-milk doing a brisk trade. The Blacksmith and Farrier attracted many admirers.

Arts and Crafts workers had a display area where they traded their wares. Their work was much admired.

  The Home cooking ladies had an exhausting day over the “Hearth Fires” producing Brown Bread, Boxty, Colcannon and Pancakes all of which was consumed on the spot.  The catering committee were kept busy from early morning supplying meals to the hungry patrons.

The vintage and auto jumble enthusiast had a vast variety of vehicles to view and enthuse over. The usual contingent of traders was present.

Children and young people were spoiled for choice with the variety of entertainment provided by the amusements people, the dancing deck and the steam organ.

As usual the Museum was a hive of activity with a steady flow of patrons visiting from early morning. Many young people were amazed to see the equipment used by their forebears in their everyday lives i.e cooking on the hearth, separating the milk for churning, even the settle bed with its ‘tick’ mattress, the High –Nelly bicycle as a mode of transport and the really rich has a pony and trap. “The good old days”

The show concluded with an enjoyable open air concert with Nathan Carter and his band. It was a sight to behold thousands of fans relaxing on the ‘Hill ‘overlooking the stage down by the river. Indeed a fitting finish to our 40th Steam Threshing Festival which had something for everyone.

Without the help of so many people this could not take place . A word of thanks to all the landowners who willing gave their fields for the car parking, to An Garda Siochana, Order of Malta, Civil Defence, Dr John O’Connell, Flexi Bus and many others who gave their services free.

We hope to do it all again on 14th August 2016 Please God.