1st World Ploughing Contest on Euro soil commemorated in Kerry

Crowds descended on Co. Kerry over the weekend to observe the 1954 World Ploughing Contest ‘Cairn of Peace’ monument as it was unveiled in the centre of Killarney, in a joyous and historic occasion, according to the National Ploughing Association (NPA).

Each year, a ‘Cairn of Peace’ is erected in the location where the competition was run and, 65 years later, the monument was unveiled in memory of the historic event.

This was the first World Ploughing Contest to take place on European soil and the second ever World Ploughing Competition, according to the NPA.

Some 13 teams from all over the world competed over the two days in Killarney in 1954. As the monument was unveiled, flags representing each of these countries were raised as the Irish National Anthem was sung.

The 1954 winner from Coleraine, Northern Ireland, 93-year-old Hugh Barr, as representatives from the 1954 Republic of Ireland Ploughing team comprised of William Murphy and Ronald Sheane, were in attendance on the day at the ceremony.

Seamus O’Donoghue and Danny O’Leary, who competed in the World Ploughing Championships of 1954, carrying the National Ploughing Association Flag. Image source: Valerie O’Sullivan

The ceremony was the result of a collaborative effort including: NPA managing director Anna May McHugh; Anna Marie McHugh, the World Ploughing Organization general secretary; the local organising committee chaired by Tom Leslie; Kerry Ploughing Association; and Kerry County Council.

Bernard O’Sullivan, a Killarney local, designed the monument to “stand the test of time” and remind future generations of the importance of ‘Ploughing’ and the motto ‘Let Peace Cultivate the Land’.