The Chief Superintendent for the Laois Offaly Garda division has described the managing director of the National Ploughing Association, Anna May McHugh, a "disarming rogue".
Speaking at the launch of the 2018 National Ploughing Championships on Wednesday in Screggan, Chief Superintendent John Scanlan said that in his profession, he gets to meet everyone from the "paupers and the poor" to "kings and queens and presidents".
Paying tribute to Anna May, Chief Superintendent Scanlan said he had never met anyone as "unique as this lady".
"I describe her as a rogue, I wish her well, she is one of the most outstanding people," he said of the 84-year-old.
"In the guards you get to meet the paupers and the poor, the downtrodden, the kings and the queens and presidents, but I've never met anybody as unique as this lady.
"She is the most disarming rogue that I have ever met in my career," he quipped fondly.
His remarks were met with a big round of applause from those in attendance, including Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, and many of the landowners and volunteers who will attend the National Ploughing Championships which get underway from September 18 to 20 at Screggan in Tullamore.
In his five years of involvement in the National Ploughing Championships, he added that the event gave him and his force a unique opportunity to mix with their own "people".
"'Friends' represents everything about the Ploughing," he said, adding that when he stands up in front of the 300 guards An Garda Síochána commits daily to the event, he tells them it is a "unique privilege".
"I'd like to thank Anna May for the privilege that she gives us in having that contact with our people, because that's what we do have here. From the volunteers, the community here in Screggan and Mucklagh, nothing is too big to ask. "I tell them 'You have one unique privilege today, and that is to police your own people'. You are going out to police your neighbours, your friends and the people that you belong to."
With "virtually" everybody in rural Ireland in attendance, the chief superintendent said he thought Anna May should also apologise to the Department of Education.
"We had a young boy sit at the kitchen table the other night debating whether to go to the Ploughing for one day or perhaps three days - three days off school that the teacher knows nothing about," he joked.
"The Ploughing does one unique thing," he continued, "It puts small rural places on the map and if you go to any part of Ireland in the next couple of weeks and use the word 'Screggan', they will say 'Ploughing'. There are few events in the world that will have that impact."
The chief super also used the opportunity to acknowledged the staff and volunteers involved in the NPA, who with their local knowledge and assistance, allowed the traffic plan which extends to as far as Cashel, to work freely and effectively. "You cannot afford to be complacent," he cautioned however, "People need to listen to the traffic message that goes out, and to please do what we ask you."