History

The Mullahead & District Ploughing Society was formed in 1912 after local farmers gave a day’s ploughing to Mr Sandy McCracken who had purchased a farm in Mullahead. The name ‘Mullahead’ is derived from the old Irish ‘An Mullach’ meaning hilltop. After the ploughing was completed it was decided to judge it and so the society took root. Mr Edward Maginnis was appointed its first secretary.

The first ploughing match took place a year later in 1913 with Mr James McCune being listed as one of the first prize-winners. During the first number of years ploughing was done exclusively with horse; with the first tractor appearing at a match over 60 years ago. This was owned by Mr W.J. Hodgen from Ahorey who gave a demonstration.

As years passed on it was decided within the society that something major needed to be introduced to rejuvenate this skilful but dying art. Meetings took place and ideas were exchanged and with the vision of providing an attraction for the general public “The Ulster Horse Ploughing Championships” were formed. On Saturday 27th February 1999 the 86th Annual Ploughing Match was held at Stramore Road, Gilford on lands owned by Errol and Richard Gilpin. Along with various styles of tractor ploughing the First Ulster Horse Ploughing Championship was incorporated. Horses, ploughmen and plough-women from England, Scotland and Wales as well as from various parts of Ireland travelled to this match. The 1st Ulster Horse Plough Championship had been staged and was by Mr Jim Elliott from Aberdeen, Scotland.

In 2000 the Society decided to hold a special “Millennium Event”. Due to strong links with “Friends of Ferguson Heritage” it was agreed that a Ferguson tractor and plough from every county in Ireland would plough in the same field, something that had never been achieved before. Following weeks of organising and endless telephone calls it happened. On Saturday 26th February 2000, on lands kindly granted by the Richardson’s Estate the Society’s 87th Annual Match incorporated the 2nd Ulster Horse Ploughing Championship and the “32 County Ferguson Challenge”. Little grey Fergies arrived from the length and breadth of Ireland with one aim in mind, to put the Ferguson plough with all its simplicity, on the tractor it was built for, back into ploughing matches. This was very successfully achieved.

In 2001 the Society aimed to further this success with the introduction of the 1st All Ireland Ferguson Championship, but regrettably due to the Foot & Mouth Crisis our match had to be cancelled. This made the members even more determined to make following year’s match even bigger and better, and on Saturday 23rd February 2002, on lands kindly granted by the Lamb Family of Richhill, our 88th Annual Ploughing Match took place. As well as the 3rd Ulster Horse Ploughing championships we incorporated the 1st All Ireland Ferguson Championship along with Ireland’s newest sport – “Tractor Pulling”. Matt Baker and Joe Inglis from the very popular children’s programme “Blue Peter” were also there to make it a cold, damp but otherwise very enjoyable day. The winner of the Ulster Horse Ploughing Championship being Mr Jim Reynolds from Wales and the All Ireland Ferguson Championship being won by Mr Sam Maybin from Northern Ireland.