The Story… The Tractor… The Project…

The Story…

Lots of you will know and many of you won’t but Michael Keegan is the grandson of Charlie Keegan, the 1964 World Ploughing Champion. By all accounts Charlie was a very nice person, described as ‘a perfectionist, almost Germanic in his ways’  he believed in ‘a place for everything and everything has its place’. I’m sure this sort of precision went along way to to honing his natural ploughing ability and why he had the neatest farm you could imagine. Michael also carries that neatness gene, my messy ways land me in trouble, a lot! Charlie was born on the 21st of March in 1926 , to Norman and Lydia Keegan. He farmed all his life and was ploughing with horses before farm machinery came on the scene after the World War II. He was a quietly talented man and his World Title win was a massive achievement at the time.

Charlie’s D15

When Charlie returned home from Vienna in 1964 he was carried off the plane with the Golden Plough in arms, shoulder high by a huge crowd, pictures can be found here at the Irish Photo Archives website.  It goes without saying that all his family were and are hugely proud of Charlie’s achievements. It was the first time the Golden Plough came to Ireland and I believe it was the first time an Irish man brought a World Title home to Irish soil. Agriculture was the main industry in Ireland at that time and Charlie became a national celebrity overnight. His winning prize was a Deutz D15 tractor, pictured above, which is still here in the yard.

The Tractor…

This year, 2014, is the 50th Anniversary of Charlie’s win in the World Championships. While I was the curator on the Tweeting Farmers account I was tweeting about Charlie and his achievements and it was suggested that it would be a wonderful idea to restore the prize tractor, the D15, and exhibit it at the National Ploughing this September. The D15 is in working order and is used for odds jobs around the farm. It’s a little rusty and does need a tidy up, but Michael has kept it in good nick over the years. The tractor that Charlie actually ploughed with was a D40L and he sold it in the 1980′s and he actually had several tractors of that same model over the years. The plough he used was a ‘Kverneland Hydrein Special’, a 2 furrow match plough and it was scrapped it years ago.

The Project…

Sadly Charlie’s two children, Stewart and Alan, predeceased him. Michael always had a great relationship with all his grandparents and, when his father Alan died in 1999, Charlie became Michael’s mentor and he guided and helped Michael on the farm in anyway he could until his death in 2003. Well Michael is very like Charlie, a total perfectionist with the attitude ‘if you’re going to a job you might as well do it right’ and as such the hunt was on for Charlie’s D40L tractor. This was the tractor, the one Charlie actually ploughed on to win the Championship. It would make the picture complete. The trouble was, Charlie had several models of this tractor over the years and they all had to be tracked down to find THE ONE! Eventually it was found, and not too far away as the crow flies, but the man that owned it was fond of it and not very keen to part with it. Michael was very distraught and did explain the sentimental value and offered to buy, replace, trade for the tractor. Michael begged him for the tractor and prevailed upon him explaining the importance and sentimental value the tractor held for him, but to no avail.

Charlie’s D40L

Until one day in late January Michael called in to the man on spec, one last time, just in case, and lo and behold he decided to part with it! Michael was elated and quickly met the man’s terms and closed the deal before anybody changed their minds. Michael is now walking ten feet taller and I am trotting along beside him trying to keep up with his giant wave of enthusiasm for life!! It means so much to him to be able to restore the two tractors, honour his grandfather’s memory and mark the 50 year Anniversary in such a fitting manner.

So both these tractors, to me, look like rust buckets! Not that I would have a clue. The D15 doesn’t look too bad, but the D40L…. Oh dear.

This is not an exhaustive list but, it needs;

New tyres. A new clutch. To be re-wired.

New mud guards.

A new steering box (whatever that means!!).

A new seat (important!).

A re-spray.

A new steering wheel.

A new exhaust box.

To be sand-blasted (a day at the beach??).

And lots more (I fell asleep while he was talking…. It’s a long list!).


And The Story Continues…

Not to do things by halves he is now looking for the plough Charlie used, a ‘Kverneland Hydrein Special’ match plough, apparently only about 100 were sold in Ireland and I imagine that most of them have been scrapped. Good man Michael, take the easy road!!


Keep following the blog where I’ll be posting any updates I have on the trials and tribulations of this giant undertaking. Any offers of help would be gratefully accepted and most appreciated! You can contact Michael directly on +353 (0) 86 384 1046 or visit the Contact Us page.