Ploughing heads to Laois
The National Ploughing Championships are returning to Laois next year, with the three-day event taking place outside the picturesque village of Stradbally from September 24 to 26.
The host farmer for the event is David Carter, who farms at Ratheniska, outside Stradbally. The Carter family and neighbouring landowners will provide the 700 acres required for both the ploughing ground, commercial stands and car parking.
Speaking yesterday at the announcement of next year's venue, Anna May McHugh, managing director of the National Ploughing Association (NPA), said she was delighted to take the championships back to her home county.
"I'm obviously delighted that the Ploughing is coming to my home county next year and I am really looking forward to working with the people of Ratheniska, Stradbally and Laois to make this one of our best events yet," Ms McHugh said. "This year the NPA decided to delay announcing the location of the 2013 event primarily because there were a number of sites that were in the running and the association wanted to ensure that each site was given due consideration."
She pointed out that it was 70 years since the championships were first held in Laois. Ratheniska hosted the event on that occasion in 1943.
The last time the event was held in Co Laois was in Ballacolla in 2002.
The NPA organiser said Stradbally's location, just off the N80 and M7, should result in an even bigger attendance than the 187,000 who attended this year's event in New Ross. Traffic delays and trouble getting on and off the site blighted this year's event.
The ploughing championships are one of the largest outdoor trade fairs in Europe and attract exhibitors and farmer visitors from throughout Ireland, Britain and Europe.
It will also provide an economic windfall for the area. The 2011 event was estimated to have been worth more than €36m to the host town of Athy.