The strange world of tractor dates, Tinder and awesome Tipp farmers

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Are those two an item?” is one of those curious rural expressions inquiring as to the romantic status of two unattached people who have been seen out together on a  number of occasions.

As a short expression, ‘an item’, surely has to top the list of unromantic phrases but ask anyone out the country about whether two individuals are ‘an item’ – or not – and they will know exactly what you mean.

The history of courtship in rural Ireland points to a very hit-and-miss strike rate in terms of farmers, love, the land and often elderly parents, not always keen on seeing a ‘fancy piece’ coming into the house.

There’s scarcely a farmer who has ‘tied the knot’ over the decades who won’t have been reminded often in a light-hearted way that ‘half his place is gone now’.

Of course, apart from the romance involved, this marriage business is quite a serious legal, property and financial contract between two people, but despite all the impediments placed in the way of love, people do get together for better or worse.

The mechanics of courtship and meeting up with a partner have become a lot easier in rural Ireland with the improved financial times, more cars and the arrival of social media.

And yet despite all those advances which facilitate the nurturing of inter-personal relationships, week-in, week-out, there’s a page in the Irish Farmers Journal under the ‘Getting in Touch’ heading, where men and women ‘state their case’ in an effort to ‘hook up’ with a suitable partner.

The little abbreviations in the ads are a fascination in themselves. GSOH is a very popular one, good sense of humour; N/S and N/D means that the ‘catch’ is a non-smoker and a non-drinker, while I presume an S/D is a social drinker.

WLTM is straight-forward enough, ‘would like to meet’ but another little curiosity in those adverts is the height specification provided by some of the male ‘applicants’ with 5’10” a popular statistic provided, obviously on the basis of someone not being either too tall or too small.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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