Farm Ireland

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Profits continue to soar for company behind Ploughing Championships


Crowds at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore Co Offaly. Pic Steve Humphreys
Crowds at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore Co Offaly. Pic Steve Humphreys
An aerial view of the championships. Photo: Dennis Horgan
Stewardship: Managing director Anna May McHugh
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The company behind the National Ploughing Championships has racked up profits of €14m as the country's biggest outdoor agricultural festival continues to harvest the cash.

Led by the so-called Queen of Rural Ireland, Anna May McHugh, the National Ploughing Association of Ireland has been increasing its profits by a million a year in recent years.

Accumulated profits stood at €14.08m in 2016, according to the company's latest abridged accounts, up from €12.1m in 2014 and €13.1m in 2015.

The company has €2m in cash in the bank and investments of over €11m, including €26,732 in prize bonds and €217,796 in capital funds.

The event - now the biggest outdoor show in Europe - has attracted record numbers of visitors under the stewardship of managing director Ms McHugh, who is now in her early 80s. Last year's show was the most successful yet, with record attendances of 283,000 people.

Ms McHugh's daughter, Anna Marie McHugh, is assistant managing director of  the festival. The latest abridged accounts do not include salaries to employees. According to accounts for 2015, eight employees were paid wages and salaries totalling €415,481.

Anna May McHugh was also paid €15,000 last year for supplying office and yard facilities, equipment and storage, €5,000 more than she was paid the previous year.

Despite the company's strong profits and massive reserves, it is a voluntary association with no shareholders and its directors are not paid dividends.

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Ms McHugh, a legend in farming circles, has worked with the National Ploughing Championships for 65 years and has been its managing director since 1973. Her memoir of her time working with the organisation is due to be published by Penguin in the autumn.

The next National Ploughing Championships runs from September 19 to 21 in Screggan, Co Offaly.

Sunday Independent