For those who can cast their minds back to the first weekend of August 2007 they may recollect one extremely wet Sunday. What made this different from any other wet Irish Sunday I hear you ask? Well, if you had been on any road approaching the Cooley peninsula, County Louth you will recall that you were probably behind or in front of a vintage tractor, for that was the very historic day when a new world record was set – with 4572 pre-1977 tractors and implements working simultaneously in one field.
The record attempt was foremost in peoples minds on the day, but following closely behind that was the desire to raise as much money as possible for charity. As has been the custom since the first Cooley vintage festival was held back in 1988, all monies raised as a result of the event are handed over to charities both North and South of the border, with each subsequent festival starting with an empty pot.
Since the first Cooley Vintage Festival the total amount handed over to charities has been a tremendous â‚¬1.5 million. True to form, the poor weather experienced in 2007 did not deter those in attendance, or indeed sponsors, from digging deep and giving generously. With tractors having been brought from every county in Ireland as well as throughout the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, South Africa and the USA the tremendous amount of â‚¬200,000 was raised to donate to charities. Thanks was extended at the presentation evening to all those who travelled from far and wide with their machines to help in the effort and ultimately create a new world record.
Saturday 12th January 2008 saw representatives from 24 charities gather in the Cooley Kickhamâ€™s football club, Cooley to receive their donations. The date was very fitting as it transpired to be the eve of the first anniversary of the initial planning meeting for the record attempt. John Maguire of the Cooley Vintage Festival committee, who acted as MC on the evening, commented on the fact the those in South Africa who started off the whole tractor world record event spent three years planning their initial event and yet look what the Irish managed to achieve in a matter of months!
Testament was paid to the tremendous amount of work carried out by the organizing committee to bring the idea to fruition. Special mention was made of John Hanlon, the man behind the initial festival in 1988 and indeed the host for that and every subsequent event. Unfortunately John was unable to be present at the presentation evening but was ably represented by his family members. Two people who shouldered much of the work and organization who received a well deserved thank you were Caroline Hanlon, Johnâ€™s daughter and Bridie Magee the committee secretary.
The charities who received donations were many and varied, ranging from church groups in the Cooley area, hospices and Eastern European aid groups to those tackling diseases such as cystic fibrosis, motor neurone disease and cancer. As has always been the case with this event the charities supported were from both Northern and Southern Ireland.
All recipients spoke of their delight at receiving donations, outlined how the money would be spent and told of what a difference it would make to the lives of those affected.
As is customary in Cooley, excellent hospitality was extended to all present, bringing a very enjoyable evening, and indeed the Cooley world record attempt 2007, to a close.