President Higgins officially opens National Ploughing Championships

President Higgins has officially opened the 84th National Ploughing Championships today in Co Laois.

Over 200,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event in Ratheniska - the flagship event for Irish agriculture.

Gardaí say traffic is still heavy around the site - while organisers are urging people to plan for rain in the days ahead.

Now in their 84th year - the National Ploughing Championships is considered the largest event of its kind in Europe.

Over 1,500 stands catering for machinery, food, fashion and more will be spread out across the 800-acre site in Ratheniska, and President Higgins has predicted a record-breaking year.

"They are a celebration of rural Ireland, our farming, and of those who farm," he said.

"And it's such a great pleasure to see so many of you here again, and this year it's more than likely you'll pass the 300,000 number."

Some €36m was spent in 2014 and organisers are expecting a similar figure this year.

The rain has held off so far today, but heavy showers are expected between now and Thursday.

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