Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

And we're off: Gates open to thousands at ploughing

An estimated 60,000 expected today

Caitlin McBride in Stradbally

The National Ploughing Championships have started off with a bang.

As doors opened at 8am this morning, thousands were eagerly waiting to enter the premises.

An estimated 60,000 people will be enjoying the festivities in Stradbally, Co. Laois today as numbers are expected to reach an all time high over the course of the three days.

Traffic restrictions have been put in place around the town and organisers are discouraging the use of sat-navs, instead telling motorists to follow road signs which have been carefully constructed to ease traffic flow.

President Michael D. Higgins will officially launch the farming festival at noon today, marking the first high profile political visit of the week.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney will be attending over the course of the three days and Taoiseach Enda Kenny will also be shaking hands on Thursday.

With the Ploughing Championships marking the biggest event of its kind in Europe, it also attracts a host of Irish celebrities.

Father-to-be Daithi O Se will be attending, as will Maura Derrane, Ryan Tubridy, former rugby stars John Hayes and Alan Quinlan, and socialite Lisa Murphy.

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Model agent and Irish style icon Celia Holman Lee will also be hosting daily fashion shows featuring local boutiques.

Social media has also played a key role over the next three days.

Organisers have arranged the first ever "tweet up" tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at 2pm and is intended to highlight the "best in local and Irish talent".

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