Blue skies and volunteer spirit sees Ploughing finish on a high note

A breakfast time cocktail of Brexit, Borris, and Big Phil got the final day of the National Ploughing Championships off to a bright start at Screggan, yesterday.

Blue skies and volunteer spirit sees Ploughing finish on a high note

European Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, Phil Hogan, held a press briefing in the Commission’s stand, as the mop-up from the previous day’s deluge was still ongoing, out on the wet-and-muddy trackways.

The Kilkenny man ranged across a number of issues, including the recent stance adopted on Brexit by British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

“He is completely at odds with his own government,” said Mr Hogan, whose conference began shortly after 8.30am.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrived around noon to blue skies and glorious sunshine, in contrast to the previous day, when the heavy rain caused walkways, car parks, and trade stands to become flooded or waterlogged, resulting in vehicles having to be towed from muddy fields.

Dave Mulcahy, from east Cork, gets the measure of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Ploughing Championships. Picture: Dan Linehan
Dave Mulcahy, from east Cork, gets the measure of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Ploughing Championships. Picture: Dan Linehan

A major, overnight remedial operation, involving National Ploughing Association volunteers, gardaí, Offaly County Council, the fire service, and other emergency services, as well as landowners and others, ensured the event went ahead as planned.

The clean-up operation removed most of the water from the site. A number of new fields were opened for car parking, while some of those used during the previous two days were reopened.

Traffic lines into car parks were changed, trackways moved, and other works carried out. Contingency plans were even made for a park-and-ride shuttle service. But that service was not required, due to the improved weather.

Thanking all involved, NPA assistant managing director, Anna Marie McHugh, said the response was one of tremendous goodwill and in the best traditions of rural Ireland.

Underfoot conditions remained wet and muddy, yesterday, but the spirit of the ploughing community remained undimmed and was even reflected by one youngster jumping with delight. “Yipee. I have mud,” he shouted.

Meanwhile, the garda traffic management plan, operated by 300 members at junctions up to 130km from Screggan, worked well.

Chief Supt John Scanlan paid tribute to the volunteerism of the National Ploughing Association and the resilience of the crowds who attended the championships.

The venue for next year’s event will be announced shortly by the NPA.

More in this section