Kircubbin Plough On Group’s Trip Down Memory Lane

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Kircubbin Plough On Group’s Trip Down Memory Lane

Kircubbin Plough On Group’s Trip Down Memory Lane

May 2, 2024 Victoria Ross

Research undertaken by Rural Support indicates that rural isolation and loneliness are a growing concern within Northern Ireland, especially within our farming community. To help address these concerns, Rural Support developed a project called Plough On which aims to tackle rural isolation and increase social opportunities for older male farmers.

The Kircubbin Plough On group was established in October 2021 and have 26 men registered, ranging from 66 to 91 years old! The Plough on project aims to tackle rural isolation and improve mental and physical wellbeing through socialisation and participation in farming-based activities and excursions monthly, encouraging individuals to get and stay well – physically and emotionally. The group is led by both Ellen Woods and Scott Laidlaw who do an amazing job organising the meetings and trips chosen by the group members.

The Kircubbin Plough On group’s March meeting involved some entertainment with archived film clips mainly relevant to farming in the Ards and East Down along with some items of general interest. Brónagh McAtasney, Access and Outreach Officer from Northern Ireland Screen (Digital Film Archive) selected excerpts that were relevant to her audience and supplied commentary, especially when some extracts hadn’t sound. The men found this extremely helpful and supportive. 

Brónagh showed the oldest piece in the archive, taken at the cattle market in Derry in 1901 complete with cattle in the street, jaunting cars and horse drawn tram. A demonstration of 3-point linkage in 1940, film of a ploughing match at Crossgar in 1954 (with 18 horses and 7 tractors), a news item on an outbreak of fowl pest at Fairbairn’s Research Farm at Kircubbin in 1964, and a piece from Lesser Spotted Ulster with Joe Mahon on William Steele’s dairy farm at Kircubbin in 2011 when the rotary milking parlour had recently been installed are just samples of the range of items shown. The carry on at a young farmers’ Paris bun eating and pipe-smoking competition at Rathfriland filmed in 1963, Joe Mahon finding out in 2011 about the unusual general trading that was part of Gilmore’s Bar 170-year history in Kircubbin, and some old footage from UTV of the response of some natives of Annacloy on hearing a fairy thorn had been cut down to allow an upgrade on the Downpatrick-Ballynahinch Road provided some light moments. The men enjoyed the wide range in items and Bronagh’s commentary that brought back memories.   

In addition to the regular events of the Kircubbin Plough On group, several of the group members have become involved in the Community Gardening Project with Peninsula Healthy Living Centre. They meet most Mondays at the Peninsula Healthy Living Centre, literally bringing new life to raised vegetable beds, and reinvigorating the polytunnels, overseen by the Centre’s Allan Reid. The Plough On Group members have an abundant amount of horticultural and agricultural knowledge which has created real value and success for the Community Gardening Project. This opportunity has also resulted in boosting self-esteem and self-worth for some of the members. Rural Support are very grateful for the partnership with Peninsula Healthy Living Centre and the Ards and North Down Borough Council Hardship grant to make this all possible.  

If you would like to find out more, or to support this project and other services and programmes delivered by Rural Support, go to the NI Farm Support hub at or telephone the Support Line on Freephone 0800 138 1678 available Monday-Friday 9am-9pm. 


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