Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Irish Open Egg Throwing Championship 2011

Report from Mark Graham, The Festival Monkey on the Mohill Games.

There is nothing quite as graceful as a finely tuned athlete hurling eggs

Touched down in Mohill and you couldn’t get around a corner without the community out on the road shaking a bucket at you for their collection for cancer research, every laneway was manned. The Fire-Brigade lads were out washing cars lending a hand. I stopped at the lights and rolled down the window to get directions and threw a bit of change into the bucket, the auld lad with the bucket winked at me, stuck the flag on my lapel and said “Wear this, it will give you freedom”. WTF!? This was starting to get worrying, it was like being in some border-county version of Alice in Wonderland.

Somebody, somewhere was takin’ the piss. They were, and I found the whole lot of them. They were down at the local GAA club throwing eggs at each other.

I’ve been to one or two festivals at this stage, and I can tell you in all honesty that I haven’t laughed as much at any of them (excluding Cats Laughs :P ) than I have at the Culchie Festival in Mohill, featuring for the first time this year, The Irish Egg Throwing Championships. Mixing together the Culchies and the Egg Throwing produced an omelette of entertainment on a scale that has never been witnessed in any GAA club in any parish or pueblo previously.

Fine Girl y’are!

When it comes to egg throwing (and I can actually speak with a little bit of authority here, as I actually practiced for this event with Ella in her back yard), it’s not so much the throwing that’s important, it’s the catching of the feckin’ thing that requires the skill. You have to take the momentum out of it or you’ll end up yolked. Competitors came in all ages, shapes, sizes and degrees of culchiness. Fair to say that everyone present enjoyed this immensely and it only cost…. FECK ALL MISSUS to enter. Yep, it was free. Proceeds from the event were going to a charity that trains dogs to become companions for autistic children and you could buy a commemorative mug (and they are decent china mugs) for €3 or 2 for a fiver. Get on to the lads and see if they’ll post you out a pair!

She’s either laying or catching, not sure. Keep an eye on it and see what happens

This years festival also featured the Culchie Cailín competition for the first time,and was all the better for it too if you ask me ;-) They may be culchies, but they’re not sexist. Ask any farmers wife: “Who does most of the work?”.

A Cute Culchie Cailín

When I was in the field I was chatting to two of the Culchie competitors about how there must be a clatter of pints torn into in the evening. “I’m a pioneer and he doesn’t drink that much” says the lad with bailer twine holding up his pants to me. Here we go, back into Alice mode I thought. “No mushrooms either, only with the fry of a Sunday”. The lads were serious. They do it because they can have such a laugh at it without having to drink. One of them met his now wife at the event 11 years ago and he was her escort at the Macra “Quenn of the land” competition the next year. Two sound lads, but seriously deranged in the most wonderful way possible. Eoin won the title in 2003.

Phil and Eoin from Enfield, cheap dates!

By far and away my favourite Culchie was Hughie. Hughie wasn’t dressed up or play actin’ or hiding any mixed olive tapenade in his straw bag. Hughie was Hughie. He was pulling on a fag drinking tae out of an old lucozade bottle that he had produced from his pocket when I asked him if I could take his photo. “Fire away lad, so long as I don’t break the camera”. Hughie had earlier eaten six raw eggs… complete with shells! He didn’t win the Culchie Crown title on Sunday, but on Saturday he was certainly my man of the match.

Cheers Hughie!

There were competitions for kids, women, mixed pairs and men. All competitions were hilarious with people busting eggs off each other by the new time. There was even an official from the World Egg Throwing Federation present on the day to help officiate and keep things above board, including his hands ;-)

Who looks the happiest?

‘Twas just as well the English fella was there, because after the main mens event, there was a mixed pair of a lad from Mohill and a Dutch Dude who had flown in especially for the event (the two Dutch champions didn’t even get a look in against the strong local contenders during the main event). The lad from Mohill who was part of the winning mens duo had an arm on’im like a horse’s leg! He’s a Road Bow-ler (not bowler, that’s a hat English fellas wear ;-P) and he used the bowling windmilling arm technique to fire an egg 61 metres across the width of the field, and in fairness the Dutch lad caught it! Between them they set a new World Egg Throwing Record. I felt humbled and privileged to have witnessed… nah, I didn’t, but I fairly enjoyed it. It was fitting for what was a great days sport, in the widest meaning of the word possible.

Men’s winners. The lad on the left is the one with Shergar’s leg for an arm

When the fun in the field was over, that wasn’t the end of the eggcitement (ah come on, I’m allowed one!?). We all adjourned to a hotel down the road for Egg Roulete. It’s like that scene from ‘The Deer Hunter’, but instead of a gun loaded with just one bullet, you have six eggs, five boiled and one raw that you must take turns in breaking against your head. I failed miserably, the first egg I busted of me bulb was far from boilt, twas raw. So with an eggy head and a pain in my face from laughing, it was back on the road. Phil and Eoin were right, you didn’t have to drink in order to have a good time, but balance is good, so it was off to a Gypsy Jazz and Craft Beer festival in North Tipperary. Cloughtoberfest ho!

Egg on my face after the release of my latest albumen (straight in at No. 2 in my pun TOTP!)

Reproduction of this article and photographs is by kind permission of Mark Graham (The Festival Monkey). You can follow his adventures via

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