Ploughing primed for a three-day extravaganza
The winding roads leading to Screggan, Co Offaly, seemed deserted on Monday morning. But the acres of white tents cloaking distant fields hinted at the crowds and craic in store.
The National Ploughing Championships begin today, but the site near Tullamore has been buzzing long before the thousands of excited attendees arrive.
Seamus Duggan is looking after the National Ploughing Association (NPA) services, and reckons he has supplied more than 500 stands with bark chippings.
Seamus, from Laois, has been onsite for over a week and has spent much of that time helping exhibitors ensure their displays are ready. "We stopped here on Sunday night at around 3am, and we started again on Monday morning at 7am," he said.
"It was the same the night before, and it'll be all around the clock. We won't go to bed. There will be no bed."
Asked for the quintessential Ploughing cure-all, Seamus has a simple recommendation - Berocca and a big breakfast.
"We're staying with a lovely woman down the road and she gives us a full Irish every morning," he said.
Machinery and mechanics are not the only big attractions, with more attendees on the lookout for fashion and gourmet bargains, as well as eligible bachelors.
Port West, a farming apparel company based in Westport, Co Mayo, is bringing more than 20 staff to man its mammoth stand.
The business will also host the much-loved Welly Throwing Competition, in aid of To Children With Love.
Elaine Wynne, marketing manager and designer with Port West, said they were expecting an intense week.
"We have over 20 staff down here for the Ploughing, and over the few days we'll have thousands of people coming to the stand," she said.
Port West will also be searching for Ireland's Most Eligible Farmer.
Woodcarver Richie Clarke from Mullingar was also displaying his artistic handiwork.
His stunning chainsaw carving of a girl with a mohawk was already turning heads.
"You're here at about 7.30am and you're finished at around 6.30pm," he said.
"I enjoy talking to people. You get a few breaks and you have a bit of craic with people.
"It's not easy, but it's enjoyable and it's good for business."