Does your family have what it takes to be crowned Laois's Fittest Family?

Sign up now: The Fittest Family competition at the The Midlands Donkey Derby

Michelle Hogan


Michelle Hogan

The Midlands Donkey Derby is expanding this year to host an obstacle course in search of Ballacolla's version of Ireland's Fittest Family.

The course has been designed to test the endurance and stamina of the teams to crown Ireland's Fittest Family.

Has your family got what it takes to climb walls of hay, shuffle through pipes and slide under nets? 

Could your family carry each other in wheelbarrows from Talbot's field back to Ballacolla village? 

The Fittest Family registration is also open to local businesses who want to send a team.

Team members must be over 16 years of age, there must be three people on a team and the team members must vary from either 2 females and 1 male or 2 males and 1 female. 

Michael G. Phelan is one of the organisers of the event.

"We are hoping to get businesses around to put in teams as well as it being a family affair, it is not confined to local groups anyone is welcome to submit a team," he said.

If you think you have what it takes you can get involved by contacting Michael G. Phelan at

Members of St Bridget's Camogie Club helped launch Ballacolla's version of Ireland's Fittest Family and The Midlands Donkey Derby.

All of the events take place on Sunday August 6, and will include Sheep Dog Trial, Sheep Shearing, An Poc Fada, Terrier Racing, Trashing, Thatching and Kid's Corner.

Well-known local man Jackie Kavanagh will hold thatch demonstrations and talk about the craft. 

There is €1000 in prize money to be won between the local and open donkey derby competitions.

The National Sheepdog Association of Ireland will be holding trials on derby day too. The best sheepdogs from around the country will be put to the test.

"Sheepdog trials are a huge attraction at events like the Ploughing Championship. We are delighted to facilitate it, that and the Fittest Family competition are two nice additions that bring big variety to the day," said Michael. 

Photos by Alf Harvey.