Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C

Do I need a brolly? How many Áras hopefuls will I meet? ... Everything you need to know about the Ploughing

(Quick version: Yes, you will need a brolly – possibly a big one).

IT’S THAT TIME of year again. 

The National Ploughing Championships get under way this morning at a sprawling site near Tullamore in Co Offaly. 

Around 300,000 people are expected to attend over the next few days. 

Here’s a bitesize guide… 

1. What is it?  

It may be known as the National Ploughing Championships – but the actual ploughing is only a small component of what goes on at the annual event, which takes place over three days at Screggan in Offaly. 

The event has essentially morphed into a three-day celebration of rural life – and you can check out everything from national baking competitions, craft shows and cookery demonstrations to country music, vehicle demonstrations and competitive sheep-shearing. 

Government departments and agencies, as well as political parties, typically set up shop at the site for the duration – and there are talks and panel discussions at the various government and media tents. 

Charities, companies and other exhibitors try and outdo each other coming up with headline-grabbing concepts every year. Hence, you may well come across some unusual ideas like … tractor football. / YouTube

How do I get there? 

The site at Screggan is within striking distance of two motorways – the M7 and the M6, and parking on site is free. 

Gardaí are advising people heading to the event to allow for at least double the normal journey time due to the volume of traffic. 

There’s a regular shuttle bus to the site from Tullamore Train Station – costing €9 return per adult and €20 for a family ticket. 

You can download the full traffic plan here


What should I look out for? 

If may seem like obvious advice, but make sure you head to the outskirts of the site to check out some actual ploughing if you’re heading along – there’s so much else going on, it’s easy to miss it. 

On the strictly agricultural front, it’s worth dropping along to perennial favourites like the ‘Machine of the Year’ competition and the live sheep-shearing demonstrations. 

This year’s event also features the inaugural final of the Horse Sport Ireland Young Horse Handler Championship, to take place in the hunt chase arena this morning. 

If you happen to have put a bit of thought into your outfit for the day, there are big prizes be won in the Most Appropriately Dressed Lady and Most Appropriately Dressed Gentleman contests. 

On the celebrity front, former Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry will be the star attraction this year. She’ll be making an appearance at the National Dairy Council stand on Wednesday. / YouTube

What are my chances of meeting a presidential candidate? 

By the looks of things, it may well be difficult to go more than a few metres without having your hand grasped and pumped by an Áras hopeful over the next three days. 

President Michael D Higgins, who is not expected to officially launch his campaign until his nomination papers are lodged on Wednesday of next week, will make his traditional opening day appearance to launch the event. 

An official campaign Twitter account for Higgins issued its first tweet since November 2011 yesterday morning, and a campaign website also went live (although, as yet, there’s not much on it). 

Gavin Duffy, Sean Gallagher and Joan Freeman – all of whom secured nominations via the council route earlier this month – are also expected to visit today. 

Liadh Ní Riada, who was named as Sinn Féin’s candidate on Sunday, is expected to attend on Wednesday. 

Peter Casey, who picked up his first nominations yesterday and is not yet assured a place on the ballot, is also due to stop by later in the week (he has council meetings to get to today). / YouTube

What’s the weather going to be like? 

‘Disturbed’ seems to be the word of the week over at Met Éireann

Helene, the former tropical storm, will be making her presence felt across the country over the next three days. 

“A very active period of weather is now expected to follow over the coming days with an assembly line of low pressure systems swinging close to our shores, bringing strong winds and heavy rain at times,” Met Éireann said in a briefing yesterday afternoon. 

There is potential that wind or rainfall warnings will be required in at least some parts of the country over the next few days associated with these Atlantic low pressure systems.

This morning’s rain, at least, will clear with bright spells to follow from the east. There’ll be more outbreaks of rain later, however – and it will stay blustery all day in temperatures of 18 to 20 degrees. 

And if you happen to have any more questions about the weather, you can put them to Met Éireann’s forecasters in person – they’ll be at the Ploughing too

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel