DURROW & ABBEYLEIX MACRA NA FEIRME: The Durrow/Abbeyleix Macra Na Feirme club was founded on the 21st October 2005 in the Manor Hotel, Abbeyleix. The club was founded by a group of 13 eager members, all of whom have remained key members throughout the last 6 years. We now have 34 members from the local area and are going from strength to strength. The club was very active from the beginning taking part in many county competitions. The club has a broad spectrum of interests ranging from agriculture, sports, personality competitions and public speaking and debating.

Within the first six months the club claimed it first Macra na Feirme All-Ireland title, with John Byrne winning the National Mr. Personality of the year 2006. The opening year of the club also saw Julieanne Walshe, selected in the county round to represent Durrow/Abbeyleix Macra at the International Miss Macra Competition in Dundrum. Elma Walshe represented the club and county at the International Miss Macra competition in Dundrum House Hotel in 2009. Elma had a very successful weekend, claiming 3rd place in the overall competition! Continuing a very successful run for the club in personality competitions Claire Walsh came second representing the club and the Queen of the land competition in 2011. Brid Walsh also represented the county in the Queen of The Land competition in Tullamore in 2010.

The club takes part in several of the sporting competitions winning the county round in Basketball, both male and female on numerous occasions. The ladies basketball team were successful in winning the county round of the competition in 2008 and went on to represent the club and county at the National Finals in Limerick. The male team Gaelic Football team represented the county at the All-Ireland Finals.

The club organises fundraisers to help various charities. Our first fundraiser was a Garden Fete held to raise money for the Bubblegum Club. This is a charity for terminally ill children and they arrange “extraordinary outings for extraordinary children.” Many events were organised for children on the day with, face-painting, bouncing castle, wrestling, tug-of-war, and we even managed to secure the local up and coming band Na Fianna for the afternoon! We raised over €1500 for the Charity. Each year we organise a table quiz to raise money for the club and it always brings large crowds.

We also participate in agricultural activities and in the year 2007 we won the county round of the Farm-Skills competition held at the Emo Show, and braving the long trip to Cork for the All-Ireland finals were narrowly defeated. A large contingent of the club attended the Annual National Conference in Clonmel in 2007, here the club claimed another All-Ireland title with Patrick Egan Jnr winning the National Beef Stock-judging title. In 2011 this continued as Dermot Dunne won the All-Ireland sheep stock judging title for the club.

In 2006 the club had several entries in the National Talent competition where our comedy duo made it through a tough Regional round in Cashel and thrilled the audience in the Helix, Dublin with their rendition of the D’Unbelievables! They placed 3rd in the All-Ireland finals Comedy Section. In 2009 John Dunne was successful in the solo-singing section at the county round of the National Talent Competition in Mountmellick.

In 2008-2009, Dermot Dunne, Patrick Hennessy, and Catherine Walshe decided to enter the Public Speaking competition, a first time for the club. They were very successful at both the county and regional rounds, with Catherine Walshe winning Best Speaker on the night in Kildare. They thrilled the audience with their performance at the National Finals in Mallow, but were narrowly defeated. In 2009- 2010 Aileen Bowe, Richard Kennedy and Catherine Walshe bravely entering the Impromptu Debating Competition. The trio were successful at the county round and although they displayed excellent debating skills they were unsuccessful in qualifying for the National Finals.

Julieanne Walshe was successful in winning a Gold Leadership award for her role as County Competition Chairperson in 2009. After a difficult round of interviews Julieanne was selected to go forward to the National Finals as one of the top six. However she was unsuccessful in the finals in Dublin. Again in 2011 Julieanne Walshe was successful winning a Gold Leadership award for her role as County Chairperson.

The club also enjoys many trips throughout Ireland and abroad. A group of 28 Laois Macra members managed went to Oakwood in 2008 for a daytrip. Everyone really enjoyed the day, with some members more adventurous than others! Dermot Dunne and Richard Kennedy represented Laois Macra when they joined a delegation of Macra members on a trip to Brussels and the European Parliament in June 2011. More recently in May 2012 the club joined the county trip to Westport Co. Mayo.

In recent years the club has increased involvement in local events hosting our own Scarecrow competition in conjunction with the Durrow Scarecrow Festival in August 2011. The club has enjoyed years of success and involvement in Macra na Feirme and looks forward to many more years to come.

Contact: Brid Walsh (085) 1181558.