Creative silage bales draw tourists to quiet Irish town

More than 60 creatively decorated silage bales are adding some “life and colour” to a small Irish town as locals battle it out to win an unusual best dressed award.

Families, community groups and businesses are involved in decorating and designing colourful silage bales for this year’s Stylish Silage competition.

The event, which is now in its third year, is part of the annual An Tostal festival in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim.

‘Stylish Silage’ competion underway
‘Stylish Silage’ competion underway

A giant ice-cream dubbed the Game of Cones, an electric Postman Pat van, a giant fire extinguisher, and a garda speed van are among the quirky artwork entries dotted around the town.

Organisers of the festival said the family-orientated competition has boosted tourism in the town.

They are expecting thousands of people to visit the town to view the artworks over the week-long festival.

Drumshanbo native Rachel McDonagh created a 30-foot long crocodile for this year’s event.

It took her weeks to sculpt the figure out of round and square bales, tyres and coal – all of which were hand-painted.

She said she took creative inspiration from a lake near her grandmother’s house, adding that the reaction she has been getting from both adults and children makes all the effort worthwhile.

“It’s a great buzz and it adds a bit of life and colour to the town,” she said.

“It’s something different.”

‘Stylish Silage’ competion underway
‘Stylish Silage’ competion underway

The 19-year-old has been crowned this year’s An Tostal “Coleen” following in the footsteps of her grandmother Kathleen Price, aged 88, who was the festival’s first Colleen, or guest of honour, in 1953.

She described it as an “absolute honour” to be given the coveted title.

“The festival has always had a special place with us because of Granny being the first An Postal Colleen,” Ms McDonagh explained.

She said it was extra special because her grandmother was with her when she was crowned on Sunday.

“It was great to have her there to share the special day with,” Ms McDonagh added.

The An Tostal festival has been running since 1953. It was set up with the aim of celebrating Irish rural life and boosting tourist numbers.

The festival runs until Saturday when the winner will be announced.