It is one of the most nail-biting, exciting, outstanding annual events in Tipperary town and this year the All-Ireland Churn Rolling championship once again delivered fantastic, family entertainment.
This year’s championships took place on Friday and Saturday evening that included athletes of all ages, with some of the finest local athletes entertaining thousands of onlookers.
Sponsored by the Tipperary Coop, the sport was designed by workers at Tipperary Co-op for the 1964 Tipperary town festival. The Co-op revived the sport in recent years and it has once again become the key feature of the annual ‘It’s a Long Way To Tipperary’ festival.
Friday’s churn racing was opened by the youngest participants; the Milk Maids, whose task was to run the length of Main Street balancing a glass of milk on a tray, without spilling a drop. Then the main event began with boys and girls junior heats giving the crowds a sample of what it takes to run at speed while in control of a traditional 44kg milk churn in front of roaring crowds.
The evening culminated in the Ladies’ Senior Championship. The only certainty here was that a new champion would lift the coveted cup, as the reigning title holder, two-in-a-row winner Geraldine Kinane was unavailable for this year’s contest. As every keen observer predicted, the semi-final was a nail-biter with Violet Ryan crossing the finishing line in just 15.36 seconds and when it came to the final, the pace increased further as Violet broke that record in a time of 14.82 seconds. Close behind her was Denise Ryan, followed by Eileen Ryan and Mairead Eviston.
On Saturday evening the Junior Championships proceeded with some incredible displays of skill, strength and speed before the Men's Senior Championships. This was always going to be a hotly contested and eagerly anticipated race, as reigning champion Brian Roche was defending his title and aiming to take a place among the select few athletes who have achieved a three-in-a-row.
However, Churn Rolling is a sport that can change the fortunes of a contestant in the blink-of-an-eye and despite having won his semi-final, Brian found himself challenged by Kevin Kinane, from Lattin in a final that was won by inches. Ultimately, Kevin Kinane won the contest with a spectacular time of 12.66 seconds.
This year’s All-Ireland Churn Rolling Championship once again attracted thousands of people to the streets of Tipperary.
The main sponsors and initiators of the Churn Rolling sport, the Tipperary Co-op, is the heartbeat and backbone of Tipperary town and the largest employer in the area also upholding a policy of contributing to the community to benefit the town.
Congratulations to the many volunteers who made the 2017 All-Ireland National Churn Rolling festival a great success.