Old farm machinery display set for Durrow Scarecrow Festival

A display of restored old farm machinery will be part of the annual Scarecrow Festival in Durrow, Co. Laois, which takes place between July 30 and August 7.

PJ Aylward, a haulage contractor who lives between Durrow and Abbeyleix, has been collecting old farm machinery since the 1970s.

His collection of reworked pieces, which number around 100, will be on display at the old filling station on the Abbeyleix Road in Durrow.

“My father was a stewart on a farm and I always had an interest in farm machinery. I started building up a collection around Laois, Kilkenny and Tipperary.

“People started asking me if I had any interest in taking away their old farm machinery. They would rather see me having it, and doing it up, rather than have it go to the scrapyard.”

It takes time and patience but is a great hobby, Aylward said. “The time spent on restoring a piece all depends on the condition. Sometimes you need two to make one. I spend any chance I get – evenings and weekends – on the work.

My wife’s uncle, Jack Dunphy, who is 86-years-old, helps me rebuild rotten horse carts. He does the timber work. While some pieces can be challenging, there are always other enthusiasts I can ask for help.

Pieces from the Ashbrook estate take pride of place in the collection. One of his favourite pieces is an Oliver wooden plough from the US.

“Farming has gone very automated now. People are delighted to see the old pieces, which were so well made, repaired and restored. They showcase great engineering.

“There’s always great interest in the pieces at the Scarecrow Festival, which I take part in every year. In the past, I’ve done a threshing demonstration which got great interest.”

Always on the lookout for pieces to add to his collection, Aylward revels in the hobby that “keeps me going”.