Pull of the ploughing attracts almost 277,000 in three days

Pull of the ploughing attracts almost 277,000 in three days

Ann Barry and Kate Cornally enjoy a break at the National Ploughing Championships. Picture: Dan Linehan

When it finished up after three days, up to 277,000 people had been through the gates of the 91st National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois.

After two days of decent weather, several cars had to be towed out as wet weather dominated the first half of today.

Wellies, ponchos, and brollies became valuable commodities as up to 19mm of rain was recorded at a weather station in nearby Portlaoise.

Around 92,500 attended on Tuesday, while Wednesday broke a new single-day record with 115,000 passing through the turnstiles. Perhaps some had decided to come a day earlier, as 70,000 braved Thursday’s heavy rain to attend.

This year also saw Ireland host the 61st World Ploughing Contest with just five months’ notice as the event was pulled from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Eamonn Tracey from Co Carlow and Wexford man John Whelan came out tops in the ploughing plots, winning the overall conventional and reversible ploughing competitions respectively on Tuesday. Both men will go on to represent Ireland at the World Ploughing Contest in Latvia.

 Jas Hugh, Tipperary North, keeps his eye on the line on his Farmall Cub during the vintage single furrow mounted plough class. Picture Dan Linehan
Jas Hugh, Tipperary North, keeps his eye on the line on his Farmall Cub during the vintage single furrow mounted plough class. Picture Dan Linehan

Despite the mud bath on the last day, National Ploughing Association managing director Anna May McHugh said it had been “one of the most successful” National Ploughing Championships to date.

“The overall mood for this year’s ploughing has been incredibly buoyant and positive,” she said. “From quality livestock and serious machinery to fashion, celebrities, TikTokers and sports stars galore there was something for every member of the family to enjoy.” 

 Gavan Duffy, Meath, with his British Anzani in the vintage single-furrow pedestrian tractor class.
Gavan Duffy, Meath, with his British Anzani in the vintage single-furrow pedestrian tractor class.

Among the first to arrive and last to leave, father-and-son team Joe and Joseph Quinn from Ardboe, Co Tyrone, will make the three-and-a-half-hour journey home on Friday night with their product Cow Tipper, a hydraulic cattle-handling crush, with the ability to gently lift and tilt a cow onto her side, allowing farmers and vets to safely reach the underside of an animal.

“We’ve had a really good week at the ploughing,” Joseph said. “We did serious business here over the last few days. We’ve had a lot of interest from vets, hoof trimmers, and dairy farmers.” 

Agricultural engineer William Allingham agreed the show was “probably one of the best in Ireland” for his business Quadcrate. He said:

Normally, you’d spend a day travelling and setting up, whereas here you have a full three days to speak to people. It’s been great to be back and has been one of the best years yet.

Doonbeg man Liam Hanrahan, chairman of Macra na Feirme’s National Agri Affairs Committee, has been busy drumming up excitement for the Young Farmer of the Year Competition.

“The 2022 competition closes on Monday. Last year it was won by Owen Ashton from Co Cork,” he said.

“The competition is based on your own farm and farming knowledge — what you’re doing now, what you’re planning on doing in the future, and how you are contributing to your local community — we are looking for a rounded person who can act as an ambassador for the industry.” 

 Time for a bite to eat in the mud after heavy rain hit the National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska. Picture: Dan Linehan
Time for a bite to eat in the mud after heavy rain hit the National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska. Picture: Dan Linehan

The organisation also hosted talks on land mobility, women in ag, and biodiversity, at the stand this week. 

The future and sustainability of farming has been a hot topic in recent months, but is the next generation of farmers really ready to take on the challenge?

“We have to be. You’ll find farmers are here to be proactive; young farmers particularly," said Mr Hanrahan, himself a young dairy farmer.

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