A Maudabawn family is taking the prospect of hosting RTÉ's hit tv show 'The Big Week on the Farm' in their stride.
The show hosted by Áine Lawlor and Ella McSweeney will be presented live from the Shalvey dairy farm in Drumlum. It proved a massive success for RTÉ in its first series, attracting an average of 326,000 viewers tuning in each night.
“You don't get a chance like this too many times in your life,” says father of three Patrick Shalvey, “and we're all outgoing enough to handle a wee bit of craic like this. It wasn't something you'd turn away!”
In the dark
Initially the Shalvey family were in the dark about which show they they were actually being considered for. Patrick's Teagasc adviser Donal Kennedy had been asked by the 'Ear to the Ground' team to suggest possible farm families for a TV show. He suggested the Shalveys and in January two people from the production company called to walk the 100 acre farm.
“We were all very excited naturally enough to hear that,” recalls Patrick of discovering it was actually for The Big Week on the Farm. “But there were a good few other farms in the running at the time, so we thought little of it.”
In early February they got word that Drumlum would host the agri-celebration.
“It's a big thing - we watched the show last year and enjoyed it,” says Patrick, recalling the 2016 series shot in Westmeath.
Over the course of the week, viewers will get to meet the whole Shalvey family, including mum Geraldine, a teacher at St Michael's NS, Cootehill, Enda (20) a second year agricultural science student in UCD, Leaving Cert student Colm (18), and Aoife (16) a TY student in St Aidan's Comprehensive.
The family all participate in the Tullyvin Musical Society, and as such, are “not in the slightest” bit shy, which Patrick suspects helped them get the slot. He quips: “It wasn't for us to say, 'Why are you picking us?' We're just delighted.”
While Patrick, who is vice chairman of Gallonray House, and is on the baord of Maudebawn Co-op, admits they were intially excited to see TV crews pull up to the farm.
“We're coming to terms with it now.”
The Shalveys milk 65 cows, and their herd are springtime calving, which could make for good viewing on April 3-7.
“We had cows calving that time last year so with any luck we should have a cow calving live for them,” said Patrick.
Each of the family have also prerecorded short features based on farmers in neighbouring counties.
“It's a lovely chance to get on the other side of the camera,” said Patrick.
Just like last year, the show will again include World Records attempts, and of course will include surprise guests.
“They haven't told us anything about the guests or celebrities that they will have on the show – they try to keep all that information close to their chests”.
It could be Bono, the Celt jokes.
“You never know, I wonder if Bono is any good at hand milking a cow because that's seems a recurring theme that they did in the last show, I'm sure they'll do that again.”
The Shalveys are expecting a 70-strong crew to descend on the farm for the week. It'll all be worth it in the end.
“It's a wonderful chance to show our local area, and to show farming in a good light.”