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Ploughing Championships: Records broken as 200,000 attend over two days

The National Ploughing Championships have continued to break attendance records.

Officially the biggest Irish event of the year, this year's festival has attracted nearly 200,000 people in just two days.

100,000 attended the championships today, smashing yesterday's record breaking result of 81,000.

The town of Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois has officially become a Mecca for farmers, who travelled from all across the country, and Europe, to be here.

While ploughing competitors took to the fields, just inches away from the Electric Picnic campsites, tens of thousands took to the Irish-owned businesses and chain stores who have stalls here.

The increase in today's crowd was noticeable as car parks filled early in the morning and traffic was severely delayed on arrival.

Irish rugby player Sean O'Brien, who is also a farmer, and socialite Lisa Murphy were among the familiar faces spotted in the crowd today.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney was joined by Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton, Health Minister James Reilly and Joan Burton, who spoke about the Central Bank's decision not to proceed with a criminal complaint against Anglo Irish Bank after the Irish Independent first published them three months ago.

Mr Coveney praised the ploughing championship's ability to draw unprecedented crowds.

"It's about celebrating the positivity that is in the agricultural sector at the moment," he said.

"It's built on good farmers and great companies which are building, what I would regard as a really exciting future for this sector."

Temperatures reached 21 degrees in Laois today, with many believing that the mild weather encouraged many to attend in their record breaking masses.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will attend the final day of the championships tomorrow.

Earlier,'s Caitlin McBride learned to shear sheep!

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