#AGventors: Tony Bergin
| Jul 23, 2018
Tony Bergin is a retired Dairy farmer from Co. Offaly, and very much an active innovator and inventor. The minute you get to meet Tony and shake his hand, you know he is quite a character. He will be 88 years old in October, but you would not give him a day over 70. He lived through World War II, electrification, and even England’s last World Cup victory! But Tony is not one of those people you would think of as “retired” – his mind is more active than most people in their 40s and he has no plans to stop. In fact, this August, he is entering his 25th Tullamore Show National Inventions Competition. He has been there every year since the show started in 1991 – only missing when they were cancelled (2001 – Foot & Mouth, and 2007/08 due to flooding).
Tony’s Treasure Trove
He must have a thousand stories to tell. But today, we are here for his treasure trove: Tony’s inventions. They range from an Apple picker to high-tech Turf turning machinery and many other labour saving and safety enhancing innovations. He shows us about 20 inventions, only a fraction of his inventory. Many won prizes and were successfully sold by Tony, but he is the first to admit he does not do this for the money: “When I’m inventing things I don’t look at it only from a financial angle. It’s more the satisfaction of seeing it work, but selling them is always a nice bonus”.
Looking in his shed is like looking straight into the mind of an inventor. It’s systemized chaos! But where others would get hopelessly lost, Tony knows exactly where to find every single bit, piece and tool that he needs.
Tony’s Wall Of Fame
The proud centrepiece of his collection is a white wooden board which is covered with photos on both sides. This is Tony’s wall of fame. Nearly three decades of documented entries into the Tullamore Show and others. And it’s an impressive record. Not only for the amount of inventions he has come up with over the years, but also for the prices he has won. First and second place are abundant on this board, including prizes from several Farmers Journal competitions.
He shows us his most recent invention. The craftsmanship, ingenuity and attention to detail are incredible. Everything has the purpose to make your life easier, while being safe to use. This philosophy can be seen in every single of his inventions. Months of thinking, prototyping and testing goes on for each new innovation in Tony’s workshop, his “office” as his family call it. “I’d stay going night and day, then I’d go to bed and still be thinking about how I could improve it further. And I’d be up the next day cutting it up and making it again.”
His wife of over 50 years Mollie has been through all the phases “It’s great for him, especially when you’re not farming anymore, you have to fill that space, don’t you? He wouldn’t be the type who would like to be idle, he’s got to be busy”.
We take a look at his board and try to go back in time. While doing so, he produces small bits of history. He pulls out a golf caddy that would even put modern designs to shame. It’s compact, light, sturdy and functional, even after all these years. Asked about what the Tullamore Show meant to him, Tony said “The Inventions Competitions opens up people’s minds. When it started there was only 9 or 10 of us, and then it went up to 30 or more. I look forward to it every year”.
Rodney Cox, a previous chairman of the show, and still in charge of the inventions competition, knows Tony well and says “Tony is one of these people who make the show what it is. It wouldn’t be the same without him”. The organisers even gave Tony a lifetime recognition a few years ago, when they heard he might “retire”, but that only seems to have motivated him even more and he has no plans to retire from the show.
This year, the Inventions Competition promises to be stronger than ever, and Herdwatch has teamed up with Rodney Cox and his team to try and bring even more inventors out to the open, by organising an “Agventions” competition ahead of the Tullamore show.
Entries are free and easy: a picture, a name and a description of the invention is all that’s needed. The entries will go into a voting process and one lucky “agventor” will win €250 cash from Herdwatch and up to three entries will be put forward into the Tullamore Show competition, where they will be in with a chance to win more cash and, more importantly, showcase their talent.
Fabien Peyaud, CEO and co-founder of Herdwatch says:
“Tony is an inspiration to us all at Herdwatch, and to me personally, as my father-in-law. I can safely say he opened my mind to the power of innovation through his commitment and achievements in the past 20 years I have known him, and today I am delighted to try and spread this spirit of innovation to all budding or established inventors with this competition.”
There are prizes for runners up too, so if you or anyone you know is hiding an invention or innovation of any kind, make sure to enter by going to
or calling 0505 34400.
And of course, Tony has already entered, and would be delighted to hear from any prospective customers for any of his inventions on 0505-21488!