Keen rivalry at YFCU debating competition held at Queen’s (1938)

Some excellent speeches were heard at Queen’s University, Belfast, during this week in 1938, reported the News Letter, on the occasion of the sixth annual debating competitions of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster.
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Sir Basil Brooke, Bt, Minister for Agriculture, who presided, said that education in farming was necessary, “an education that would enable every man and woman in the industry to look at every problem in the broadest possible way”.

He added: “These debates are not merely a game and not a matter of whether this or that club won. They will be of the greatest possible help for young farmers when their time comes to lead the agricultural industry.

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“The more we can look at all sides of every question and then make up our minds which was the best, the better it will be for the country.”

Pictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown, in the photo are James Coleman, Glarryford, the judge, Robert Overend, Bellaghy, and Frank Espley, NILPBA secretary. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl ArmitagePictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown, in the photo are James Coleman, Glarryford, the judge, Robert Overend, Bellaghy, and Frank Espley, NILPBA secretary. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage
Pictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown, in the photo are James Coleman, Glarryford, the judge, Robert Overend, Bellaghy, and Frank Espley, NILPBA secretary. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage

There were twelve individual competitors and six teams in the novice section representing Donaghadee YFC, Hillsborough YFC, Killinchy YFC, Moneyrea YFC, and Rathmore YFC.

The three subjects, one of which the each had to choose, were: ‘The Flight from the Land’, ‘A Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing’, and ‘Agricultural Shows – their Value and Future Development’.

In the open section, the competitors had to debate the following motion: ‘That the Young Farmers’ Movement In Ulster Is Fulfilling Its Purpose.’

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Five teams competed as follows: Rathmore YFC (Miss J Wilson and Miss A McClintock), Boardmills YFC (Miss Armstrong and William Girvan), Ballywalter YFC (Miss M Walker and A Baillie), Ardglass YFC (Miss S Crea and H Kennedy), and Hillsborough YFC (Miss Lucy Ward and Miss A Fullerton).

Pictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown is James Gabbie from Crossgar with his champion boar and reserve champion, which made a top price of 670 guineas. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl ArmitagePictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown is James Gabbie from Crossgar with his champion boar and reserve champion, which made a top price of 670 guineas. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage
Pictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown is James Gabbie from Crossgar with his champion boar and reserve champion, which made a top price of 670 guineas. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage

The judges were Mr W Ogilvie, MA, the vice-chancellor of Queen's University, and Mr William Lowry, KC. Senator Captain J R Perceval Maxwell was umpire.

The results were a follows: Novice section, 1 and National Farmers’ Union Mutual Insurance Society’s Cup, Ballywalter YFC (Miss A Walker and J McCracken), 235 points; 2 (equal), Hillsborough YFC (Miss Lily Ward and J Leathern) and Killinchy YFC (Miss Minnis and H Lowry), 225 points.

Individual awards, 1 (equal), Miss Minnis and J McCracken; 3, Miss Lily Ward.

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Open section, 1 and Imperial Chemical Industries Cup, Rathmore YFC (Miss J Wilson and Miss McClintock), 170 points; 2, Hillsborough YFC (Miss Lucy Ward and Miss A Fullerton), 155 points.

Pictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown is Robert Overend from Bellaghy with the supreme champion gilt. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl ArmitagePictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown is Robert Overend from Bellaghy with the supreme champion gilt. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage
Pictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown is Robert Overend from Bellaghy with the supreme champion gilt. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage

Individual awards, 1, Miss A McClintock, 2, Miss A Fullerton, 3, Miss J Wilson.

Mr Lowry, giving his opinion of the contestants’ efforts, said that “if the movement flourished as it has done, every member the farming community will be his or her own advocate”, and “that would be the end of me”.

He added that the arguments had been “well constructed and put forward with fluency”.

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“In one or two cases there was a tendency to rely too much on the memory,” he remarked.

Pictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown is Ashley Armstrong from Omagh with one of his Norwegian Landrace boars. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl ArmitagePictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown is Ashley Armstrong from Omagh with one of his Norwegian Landrace boars. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage
Pictured in December 1981 at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown is Ashley Armstrong from Omagh with one of his Norwegian Landrace boars. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage

Lady Brooke handed over the prizes.

A vote of thanks to the Senate Queen’s University for the use of the lecture room, and to the donors of the prizes was accorded on the motion of Mr James Brown, seconded by Mr G L Grey.

The chairman, the judges, the umpire, and Lady Brooke were thanked by Mr G L McKelvey, Board Agriculture, seconded Miss Hilda Knox.

The arrangements were capably carried out by Mr R M Chambers, Board of Agriculture, the organiser of the event.

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‘The drift from the land’: The gradual elimination of the small one-ten acre farms in Northern Ireland was a good thing because it strengthened the agricultural industry as an economic unit in a madly competitive world, claimed Dr G Scott Robertson, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture during this week in 1938 in a broadcast debate with the Rev Robert Moore, president of the UFU.

Mr Moore took the view that the farmers’ sons and daughters were disinclined to stay and work the farm.

Pictured in December 1981 watching the judging at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl ArmitagePictured in December 1981 watching the judging at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage
Pictured in December 1981 watching the judging at a show and sale of Landrace pigs which was held at Cookstown. Picture: Farming Life archives/Darryl Armitage

He said: “The girls look for office jobs in the nearest town, and even if they live at home, they take little or no interest in the land.

“In the like manner, the sons also left the farm to work in the town and the farmers are forced to depend more and more on hired labour.”