Rosemary Scally, a veteran of almost 50 years of the National Plowing Association (NPA), will take over the public address duties at Plowing 2023, following the death of her friend and colleague Carrie Acheson.
In January this year, Carrie died at the age of 88, having been on public address duties at the National Plowing Championships for over 30 years, becoming affectionately known as the ‘voice of the Plowing’.
Now, that responsibility has fallen on Rosemary Scally, who is also steeped in plowing tradition, having been involved in the NPA since the late 1970s.
“I’m from a farming background, and on my mother’s side, they would have been noted plowmen in the 30s and 40s,” Rosemary said.
“My dad joined the NPA when it was tiny, in (NAP co-founder) JJ Bergin and (current managing director) Anna May McHugh’s time.
Her father, Paul Dunican, had looked after public address at the Plowing before Carrie.
“The first one I intended was in 1977. I was kind of thrown in at the deep end at that time and I helped with the plowing results. Then, the headquarters was a six-berth caravan. Everything happened in that,” Rosemary said.
She joined the NPA at the same time, the same year that Carrie joined. Beginning the following year, Rosemary was brought back to work in the NPA headquarters.
During the event itself each year, Rosemary’s main function was results balloteer.
It was last May when both the NPA managing director Anna May McHugh and assistant managing director Anna Marie McHugh called her to ask if she would consider taking on the public address duties.
“I have to say I was very emotional when I got the call,….because my dad, who’d been there since the ’50s, his role was public address until Carrie came along,” she said.
“Carrie and I shared a room for many years, so I was very close to the role.”
Describing the job that she will be undertaking, Rosemary said: “There isn’t any job description for what I’m going to do. I know the job, I grew up with it, I think I know what it will be, but it will probably be different on the day.”
Despite online maps, phones, connectivity, the internet and the like, Rosemary feels the role of public address still has relevance, as people can’t be in two places at once.
“With all the events that are going on now, and the events that are going simultaneously, and people can miss out, obviously my role will be to make people aware of what’s going on,” she said.
Speaking about her late friend and colleague, Rosemary said: “Carrie was a larger than life figure, and she had a deep love of farming. She was able to speak the language, which was great. No one will emulate what Carrie did.”
Rosemary said that while also wanting to take some of Carrie’s attributes into the role, she also wants to make it her own, and has discussed some ideas with Anna May McHugh on what she would like to bring to the role.
Rosemary isn’t completely inexperienced in the role, having filled in on public address on a number of occasions in the past, including for one day last year.
She contributed to public address, in a small way, in her first year of involvement in the NPA in 1977.
“I remember back in 1977 my father let me call out something very simple. It was such a big deal to be heard on the loudspeaker at the time.
“I’ll give it my all, because I’ve been doing a lot of background work, and I was speaking with Anna May for an afternoon, we went through a lot,” she said.
Speaking more generally on the attraction of the National Plowing Championships, Rosemary said: “It’s lovely to have been part of national plowing, because it was always so rural-based. It’s lovely to see rural and urban connected together.
“Covid-19 has seen a new genre of urban people embracing country life. We hear more and more about that, and it’s lovely to be part of that,” she added.