We must not get carried away by the buoyant atmosphere at the Ploughing
Making sure we don't overspend is vital despite good year -- and Athy needs a new traffic system!
Crawling along in my car in the company of what seemed like half the population of Ireland on the opening day of the Ploughing Championships, I started to wonder what the hell I was doing there.
Now I don't want to sound like a professional moaner but I am most uncomfortable among crowds and in crowded places. Like a lot of other people, I probably suffer from some phobia brought on by packed, busy places such as railway stations, football matches etc.
The Ploughing is a great event but has huge drawbacks for people like me who like their bit of comfort and are no longer in their teens. Why can they not organise the flow of traffic so that we can arrive and leave without endless queuing?
To its credit, the National Ploughing Association (NPA) has huge sums of money on deposit and each year adds further to its bulging coffers. Surely with the resources at its disposal, the NPA could provide some decent traffic management.
I arrived in Monasterevin at 8am relieved to know I had only a few further miles to travel. Due to the volume of traffic, I eventually got in to the showgrounds well over two hours later and would have been quicker walking. I followed all the signed routes and still cannot understand why, at one point, the gardai were trying to get traffic from four different roads to squeeze into one. This inevitably led to huge delays.
Perhaps the NPA could take a look at how shows are managed abroad, where for large events a 'park and ride' system is normally in place, such as the one we have at Dublin airport. Next year I intend leaving home earlier. Hopefully, everyone else won't do the same.
Having said all that, despite the mud, crowds and lengthy queues, there is nothing anywhere else in Europe quite like our own Ploughing Championships.
I was remarking to one farmer how they don't get attendances like this at agricultural shows in Britain and he said that the Irish Land Commission was solely responsible. His reasoning was that in Britain you have huge farms and landowners with holdings of thousands of acres. Here in Ireland, since the Land Commission broke up all the large holdings, there is hardly anyone in the country who hasn't a cousin or uncle who owns a bit of land somewhere.