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Plans for virtual Ploughing as €45m event cancelled

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Doyle Brothers Agr cutting silage at the National Ploughing Championships site in Fenagh, Co Carlow last week Photo: Roger Jones

Doyle Brothers Agr cutting silage at the National Ploughing Championships site in Fenagh, Co Carlow last week Photo: Roger Jones

Doyle Brothers Agr cutting silage at the National Ploughing Championships site in Fenagh, Co Carlow last week Photo: Roger Jones

The cancellation of the National Ploughing Championships has been described as a "major blow" to the Carlow region and to trade exhibitors at the event.

The event, one of the biggest outdoor events in Europe, worth an estimated €45m to the local economy, was cancelled last week due to fears over the spread of Covid-19.

"The decision to cancel the Ploughing wasn't a big surprise, but it still comes as a shock to the people of Carlow," said John Paul Phelan, Fine Gael TD for Carlow-Kilkenny.

"It was a major source of revenue for the area, especially those involved in the hospitality and construction sectors as well as local clubs and charities who would receive a donation for volunteering in the days coming up to the event.

"However, the health and wellbeing of the public, and containing the virus, is the most important thing here, so the event needed to be cancelled."

The event is also a major opportunity for small businesses to showcase the products that they have to offer.

Platform

Kieran Comerford, chair of the Local Enterprise Offices Exhibitions Committee, said the local enterprise village gives a platform to small businesses from across the country year on year to display to hundreds of thousands of potential customers.

"It is disappointing we can't do that again this year, but we are working with clients to help them respond as effectively to what is going on and adjust their businesses accordingly and no doubt the Ploughing will return in 2021."

National Ploughing Association director Anna May McHugh said those who had booked space will be refunded over the coming weeks.

The NPA suffered another financial setback due to Storm Ali in 2018. Its impact resulted in revenues decreasing by 12pc, from €5.6m to €4.97m. Some losses were recouped last year and accounts at the end of January 2019 showed the NPA had accumulated profits of €13.3m.

Meanwhile, the NPA is now planning to hold an online 'virtual' trade exhibition in September; more details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

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