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Dublin: 2 °C Saturday 23 March, 2019
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Heading to the Ploughing? Here's everything you need to know to plan your day

With over a thousand stands and hundreds of events, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start…

1 President Higgins at the Ploughing last year. Source: Rollingnews.ie

AUTUMN HAS LANDED, and once again it’s time for the National Ploughing Championships.

The event moves to a site near Tullamore in Co Offaly this week after three straight years near the Electric Picnic site in Co Laois.

It’s an enormous event – with almost 300,000 people expected to visit between this morning and Thursday evening.

So how do you figure out what to see? And what are the best ways to avoid queues and traffic?

Here’s a few handy tips that might make your Ploughing a little easier, if you’re heading to Screggan…

Avoiding those traffic jams

Screggan is located just to the south-west of Tullamore – within striking distance of both the M6 and the M7.

It’s 110km from Dublin and just over 200km from Cork.

screg1 Source: Google Maps

Tullamore train station is just ten minutes from the site, and there are bus transfers from the station (and back) each day.

A full traffic plan is available on the National Ploughing Association website – but in advance of the start of the event gardaí have issued this advice for motorists from Munster in particular:

“Gardaí are asking people travelling from the Cork/Munster area to the National Ploughing Championships at Screggan, Tullamore to turn off the M8 at Junction 6 (Horse & Jockey) and not to continue along the motorway to Portlaoise.

By turning off at Junction 6 people travelling from the Cork/Munster region will avoid traffic congestion and other ploughing traffic in the Portlaoise area. 

They’re asking drivers on that route to turn off sat nav devices after taking the Horse & Jockey exit, and to follow the signs mounted along the route. A park ‘n’ ride system will be on offer for traffic approaching from the Dublin side.

If you are taking the car, however, tailbacks are inevitable. The event closes at 6.30pm each day – so if you want to avoid delays in the evening, maybe try and avoid leaving around that time.

Getting around

Remember, the Ploughing is huge – there are over 1,500 stands in the main part of the site. The actual ploughing competitions take place some distance away from the trade, food and craft stands – so if there are any competitions you’re particularly keen on seeing, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there.

map1 Source: npa.ie

What to see

You may have a few things on your list before you head out the door in the morning, but before you plan your day properly you’re probably better off getting there early, grabbing some breakfast and getting your bearings.

If you want to spend the day assessing farm machinery, by all means that option is available to you. Similarly, if you’d rather spend your time checking out cooking demonstrations or music, you probably won’t be disappointed.

A colour-coded map is available from the Ploughing website and a schedule of daily events is available here too.

If you had to twist our arm for a few recommendations, it’s always worth dropping by the RTÉ set for a gander. The sheep dog trials are always strangely hypnotic too – and the competitive sheep-shearing, if you’ve never stumbled upon it before, is certainly a sight worth seeing.

Taking a look at some of the specific events today – here are a few potential highlights:

  • Midday: Official Opening by President Michael D HigginsGuest singer is Derek Ryan with St Colman’s School, Mucklagh, singing the national anthem.
  • 12 – 1pm: Tractor Football (Adjacent to Catering Block C)
  • 1.30pm: National Brown Bread Baking Semi-Final (Aldi Stand) 

What’s the weather like?

The Met Éireann forecast is for “a mainly dry day with a mix of cloud and some bright or sunny spells”.

There may be some drizzle around in the afternoon, and temperatures will be between 15 and 17 degrees.

This being Ireland, though, you’re best advised to prepare for the worst – and a pair of wellies is essential.

Read: From shorn sheep to stripped-off farmers: We’re at ‘The Ploughing’ – and here’s what’s happening >

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