BYGONE DAYS: Kilroot PS clocks up a centenary

The 100th annual match of the Kilroot Agricultural and Ploughing Society had been held at Castle Dobbs in September 2007, reported Farming Life.

By Darryl Armitage
Saturday, 25th September 2021, 11:00 am
Brian Simpson and George Huey at the Kilroot Ploughing Society’s centenary match in September 2007. Picture: Kevin McAuley/Farming Life archives
Brian Simpson and George Huey at the Kilroot Ploughing Society’s centenary match in September 2007. Picture: Kevin McAuley/Farming Life archives

The land had been kindly granted by Mr Andrew Dobbs.

Farming Life noted: “And surely there wasn’t a massive turn out like this, or such a glorious day away at that first ever event away back in 1906, as competitors and spectators from all ‘arts and parts’ descended on Tongue Loanan to celebrate the society’s centenary.”

And it was fitting too, that one of Kilroot’s golden greats, Harold Simms, came out of retirement to clinch the vintage championship at the match.

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Bertie Hanna guides Clydesdale geldings Adam and Max at Kilroot Ploughing Society’s 100th anniversary ploughing match at Castle Dobbs in September 2007.


Harold, who then contented himself with judging ploughing matches, had represented Kilroot on the world stage, ploughing for Northern Ireland at the World Championships in Sweden in 1976, Germany in 1978 and then again in the USA ten years later.

Also taking part at Kilroot that September was newly crowned world champion David Gill, although on the day he had to settle with third place in the 12 inch world style open.

The society’s president Andrew Dobbs pointed out to Farming Life that it was “a rare event for any club to reach its 100th anniversary”, he recalled: “Carrickfergus Castle dates from the Norman times and the ancient parish of Kilroot would have been the centre of an active farming community for generations, so it is appropriate that the lands of Kilroot today host the gathering of many families who have supported and competed with the society for many years.”

John Taggart from Northern Bank presents sponsorship to Tom and Rachel Cross at the Kilroot Ploughing Society’s centenary match in September 2007

He continued: “The closeness of Kilroot railway station made it possible for competitors from a wide area to come to the society’s competitions, where friendships began and were renewed, ideas and gossip exchanged in the spirit of friendly competition.

“Ploughing holds an unique position and for a challenge which has changed little since Roman times, whether with a horse or a modern tractor. Don’t we all pass a critical eye over a newly ploughed field.”

Mr Dobbs concluded: “It’s with great pleasure that the society welcomed everyone to the 100th match and we look forward to 100 more years of ploughing.”

And that match was a day of looking back and proving popular on the day was the impressive collection of photographs and press clippings, looking back some of those 100 years.

Alex Thompson pictured at the match at the Kilroot Ploughing Society’s centenary match in September 2007


But the event wasn’t just about ploughing, as another popular feature was the display of Clydesdale horses by John Cross and family.

There was also a tug of war competition, which was fittingly won by Milebush Agricultural Society, who saw off the challenge from Milebush YFC and Gleno Valley YFC.

judges for the day

Kennedy Bassett in action at the Kilroot match...Pic Kevin McAuley

However, the main business of the day was ploughing, and the large turnout, ideal conditions and high standards hardly made it easy for the judges: William King, MBE, Macaosquin, Laurence McMillan, MBE, Dundonald, David Wallace, Muckamore, Don Wright, Magherafelt, Brian Simpson, Ballycastle, Martin Gill, Crossgar, George Murphy, Hillsborough, William Hood, Ahoghill, William Purcell, Limavady (tractor), Neil Macphail, Scotland, and Sam McKee, Saintfield (horses).

All classes were judged on merit.


Class 1, 12 inch style open, 1, Brian O’Neill, Moy, 2, William Hogg, Hillsborough, 3, David Gill, Crossgar, 4, Gary Simms, Donegal, 5, Wilson Holden, Killyglen.

Class 2, 12 inch style confined, 1, Ian Simms, Carrickfergus, 2, George Huey, Armoy, 3, Richard Pinkerton, Nutt’s Corner, 4, Allen McAnally, Ballyboley, 5, Kenny Bassett, Killyleagh.

Class 3, 12 inch world style, under 25 years, 1 Andrew Gill, Saintfield, 2, Matthew Simms, Donegal, 3, Lee McKinney, Donegal, 4, Ryan O’Donnell, Moy.

Class 4, reversible, 1, Thomas Cochrane, Coleraine, 2, David Wright, Magherafelt.

Class 5, commercial reversible, 1, Andy Tafts, Newtowncrommelin, 2, William Johnston, Templepatrick.

Class 6, vintage open, 1, Harold Simms, Carrickfergus, 2, Robert Wilson, Ballyboley, 3, Ivan Watson, Ballynahinch, 4, Frankie Davidson, Raloo Village, 5, Jack O’Brien, Enniskillen.

Class 7, vintage intermediate, 1, James Adair, Ballycorr, Ballyclare, 2, John Robinson, Ballyalbanagh, Ballyclare, 3, Fred Dunn, Brookeborough, 4, David Crooks, Moneymore, 5, Raymond Clifford, Larne.