Edmond Cahill being fitted for his suit by the late Frank Tuohy.

Edmond was the original Westmeath Bachelor

One man who can identify closely with the single men vying for success in this weekend’s Westmeath Bachelor competition is Edmond Cahill, of Crookedwood.

That’s because, in 1969 Edmond became the first ever official Westmeath Bachelor – what might be termed ‘the original Westmeath Bachelor’.

That initial Westmeath Bachelor competition was organised and sponsored by Westmeath Macra na Feirme, which that year was under the chairmanship of the late Willie Smyth, with the role of county secretary filled by Sheila Murray.

The extremely dapper young men who were in the running for the Bachelor title had been nominated by their local Macra na Feirme clubs. Some clubs were spoiled for choice and sent a number of representatives forward. Among the Macra clubs in existence at the time were Crookedwood/ Multyfarnham, Collinstown, Tang, Kilbeggan, Kinnegad and Rochfortbridge.

The day of the big event, the entrants gathered at The Greville Arms Hotel. Each candidate was taken in to a room in turn and interviewed by five judges.

Edmond recalls that they were questioned on subjects such as farming, general knowledge, sport, their jobs, their interests, and of course their ideal partner.

It was a tense wait as the interviews began at 9pm and continued until 2.30am – and there was still a wait of another half an hour until the names of the winner and runners-up were announced.

North Westmeath, as it turned out, was to sweep the boards. Edmund, who was representing Crookedwood/ Multyfarnham, came first, while second was Joe Monaghan of Collinstown branch, and in third place came another Collinstown member, Willie Roundtree.

As the winner, Edmund received a beautiful suit, he recalls. The suit was donated by Frank Tuohy of Frank Tuohy Menswear. Sadly, Frank has just recently died (April 10 2022).

The formal presentation of the suit to Edmond was made in Mr Tuohy’s shop by singer Joe Dolan who had had a major hit with the song The Westmeath Bachelor the previous year.

The 2022 festival

The 2022 Westmeath Bachelor Festival opens on Friday, April 29, with the Whistlin’ Donkeys; continues with the Lakeland Sessions on Saturday, April 30; and the Country Sessions on Sunday, May 1; and the Westmeath Bachelor Competition is at Mullingar Arts Centre that evening.

See also: Lakeland Sessions - The stage is set