I’m from Streamstown. You’d be in Sligo town in 10 minutes from here. We’re lucky where we’re living. We’re near the Galway, Dublin and Donegal roads. We’re not too far from Knock Airport either and you’ve so many beaches and mountains in Sligo.
I’m full-time farming. I do a bit of suckling and I feed a few heifers. And every time I get a cheque out of the place, I’ve to give it to someone else!
I was always interested in vintage machinery. If you ask me what I think of modern machinery I’d say, “Too big, too fast and too many flashing yellow lights.”
Going back to the vintage shows about 20 years ago, I said I’d like something in the way of vintage. I didn’t know whether it was a car, a tractor or what. In the end, I decided on a Farmall Cub tractor, because that’s what my father had.
My father bought a new Farmall Cub back in 1955. It was the transition from horses. Unfortunately, the tractor he had disappeared, but in the last 15 years I’ve acquired three of them. I’ve two here in the shed and one of them is in an art gallery in Sligo.
I like going to the vintage shows and meeting people, it’s a nice social day out. I’m involved with a few vintage clubs and I bring the tractors to different shows. I’ve one with a trailer down at the Ploughing this week.
I was in Galway about 15 years ago with one of the Farmall Cub tractors, at the Mountbellew Agricultural Show. This little boy came along to me and his eyes were hanging out of his head looking at the tractor.
He went up on it and after he got off, he got all excited and asked me, “Is that your tractor?” I said: “‘Tis.” He said: “Did you get it in Smyths or World of Wonder?”
That’s as true as God.
I recently restored a thrasher. It was built in Ipswich in 1947, so effectively it’s 75 years old
This thrasher was working in local parishes up to 25 years ago. It would mainly have thrashed oats. There were a few occasions when it did thrash a little bit of barley.
The thrasher belonged to a neighbour of mine. It’s been in the parish for the past 40 years or so. My neighbour passed away about eight or nine years ago and then after a time his family approached me to see if I’d like to buy it.
I wanted it and I didn’t want it. I probably went up and looked at it three times. In the end I decided I’d take it. Low and behold, it was lying in my own shed for seven years.
In a way, thank God for the COVID, I decided to make a go of restoring it. On and off I spent 16 months here restoring it. I cleaned it down, made new parts for it and I was lucky that I was able to get new tyres and tubes for it.
The hardest part was cleaning it down. I think I burned out three sanders, a lot of sweat and curses were thrown into it as well.
Once I got it sanded down and cleaned, it was pretty straightforward, I thought.
When I started first, I thought I only had one or two parts to make for it, but when I examined it further, some parts were badly gone with dry rot, woodworm and decay. I ended up making 31 new parts for it.
A friend of mine, Pádraic Corcoran, came down here one day after it was ready for painting. It could have been last October.
He said: “I’ll give you a hand with the painting.” He took an interest in the painting and so he did the most of it to be fair.
He came down here last January and it was minus two and three degrees. I said: “Pádraic, the rats wouldn’t live here with the cold.” He’d put on the overalls and say, “No, no, where’s the paint and where’s the brushes.”
It was better than winning the lotto, seeing the end product. And I can’t believe the amount of interest it has generated from near and far.
A lot of people have called to see it. There were great chats, some older people were reminiscing about the old days, that thrashing was the biggest day in the parish.
There was nothing as nice on a good harvest evening as to hear the thrasher in the distance. The hum out of it, it was beautiful.
The combine harvester came along and they were put aside. It was a modern machine, more efficient and took less time to do its job.
I never spent a full day or a full night at the restoration, three or four hours now and again. It was a lovely hobby to be at.
Particularly on a wet day I used to relish coming in and deciding what part to make for it. Some days I only made one part, other days I might make two.