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Monday 22 January 2018

Hopes high for record attendance at Ploughing

Preparations under way at Screggan, Co Offaly, for the National Ploughing Championships. Photo: James Flynn
Preparations under way at Screggan, Co Offaly, for the National Ploughing Championships. Photo: James Flynn

Alan O'Keeffe

Hundreds of people were busy putting the finishing touches to the vast 700-acre site of the National Ploughing Championships yesterday.

There are hopes the attendance record of 283,000 will be exceeded this week when the three-day event gets under way tomorrow at Screggan, near Tullamore, Co Offaly.

"It was a relief all the lorries and heavy traffic were already moved into the fields before the heavy rains hit on Saturday," said Denis Keohane (69), chairman of the National Ploughing Association.

He spent much of yesterday marking the areas for the horse-ploughing competitions.

Mr Keohane said he had many happy memories of his early years on his family farm in Maulrour, near Clonakilty, Co Cork, using horses to plough before tractors became prevalent in the 1960s.

More than 300 competitors will vie for trophies in more than 20 competitions.

The 1,700 exhibitors have built a tented village which covers more than 100 acres of the site.

People attending the event are expected to spend more than €30m and they will come from all over Ireland, most of them using the 400-acre parking facilities after navigating an elaborate traffic management system.

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Among the new exhibitors this year is Grace Roche (31), who was putting the finishing touches to her Pretty Bird workwear for women stand.

Newly married last October, she and her husband Raymond farm at Abbey, 10km from Portumna, Co Galway.

"We only launched the business in June. There's a definite need for workwear for women who work on farms and in gardens," she said. "Practical workwear at reasonable prices is badly needed by women.

"In some cases, that includes steel-capped boots for women or wider wellies for people with bigger calves," she said.

More than one-third of the attendees at the annual event are female.

The exhibitions will occupy almost 200,000 sq m of exhibition space this year.

There will be a funfair for children and a variety of attractions, from livestock-judging to sheep-shearing, fashion shows, cookery demonstrations and sheepdog trials.

The food courts will once again showcase the ever-growing variety of artisan foods being produced around the country.

Gates open at 8am and people are advised to allow plenty of time for their journeys.

Irish Independent



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