Wellies at the ready as rain takes its toll on Screggan site
A safety-first message has gone out to the 100,000 visitors expected to descend on Co Offaly for day one of the National Ploughing Championships.
The final preparations were under way yesterday at the Ploughing site outside Tullamore, as the rain of the past few weeks takes its toll.
But safety officer Michael Doyle, who is marking his 10th year at the Ploughing, told the Irish Independent that dehydration was a "huge issue" despite the weather not being hot.
"It's a huge issue we see every year. The Order of Malta deal with people who are dehydrated because they've been driving for hours and walking around all day and forget to drink water."
He asked visitors to allow plenty of time for travel, with gardaí beginning a major traffic operation to guide tens of thousands of visitors over the coming days. He added that the successful 'Keeping you safe' wristbands launched at the Ploughing last year were a great way to put parents' minds at ease.
"Children are given wristbands at the entrance and parents can write their name and contact details on them. This makes it easier for parents if they lose them. We'll also have our usual loudspeaker system in place," he said.
Among the 1,700 exhibitors, Alma Jordan of Agrikids is especially concerned with farm safety. She will be holding farm safety workshops for children in the Zurich tent and believes that while the Ploughing itself is child-friendly, it is important for parents to be vigilant.
"There will be 100,000 or so at the Ploughing on a given day so it's important to make your child visible and lay down ground rules with them at the start. My earliest memory is being allowed a day off school for the Ploughing, so overall it's a very child-friendly event," she said.