Farm Ireland

Monday 22 October 2018

Motorists warned of two-hour delay on trip to plough festival

Aideen Sheehan

MOTORISTS travelling to the National Ploughing Championships have been warned to allow two extra hours travel time.

Between 50,000 and 70,000 people are expected to make the journey to Athy, Co Kildare, for the first day of the event.

AA Roadwatch has warned drivers to be prepared for traffic jams of up to 60 minutes as the busiest day of the championships gets under way.

It also said motorists should allow one hour for exiting the car parks at the end of the event, which runs from 9am to 6.30pm from today until Thursday.

Gardai have launched a traffic-management plan aimed at keeping visitors away from the town itself by channelling them through seven well-signposted routes to the site on the Athy/Stradbally Road (R428).

"Athy is a bad bottleneck at the best of times, so while we're not saying to keep away from the town if you need to do business or socialise, we are saying there's no need to go into the town if you're just travelling to the ploughing itself," said garda spokesperson John Gilligan.

Up to 150 gardai will be on duty along the routes to manage traffic between now and Thursday. A highlight of the agricultural calendar, the National Ploughing Championships are taking place on the lands of Eamon and Willie Fennin at Cardenton, just a few minutes from the centre of Athy.

Organisers are also hopeful that up to 10pc of visitors will use public transport, with bus transfers operating from Athy, Kildare and Portarlington train stations.

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President Mary McAleese will formally open the Ploughing Championships at 12 noon today, while Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith is expected to attend tomorrow and the Taoiseach Brian Cowen is due to pay a visit on Thursday.

Today will also see competitions for the "most appropriately dressed" man and woman who will win holidays abroad for their efforts.

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