Lashing rain led to the Brolly Brigade swinging into action at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan yesterday.

Thousands flocked to the event in the morning when the weather was dry but the forecast was for a band of rain spreading from the west later in the day. And it didn’t disappoint.

The rain started just before Taoiseach Enda Kenny held a media doorstep beneath a canopy outside the National Ploughing Association headquarters.

But it takes more than a wet half-day to dampen the spirits of rural people. They had heeded the forecast and come prepared, like rural fashionistas: Multicoloured umbrellas, wellies in many designs, jackets with hoods, hats and caps, and plastic capes given out by exhibiting stands.

Melissa Gately, from nearby Screggan Cross, won a weekend for two at the G Hotel and Spa in Galway, having been chosen as the most appropriately dressed lady at the event. She wore a tweed blazer with matching brooch, a green scarf, and jeans with knee-high flat boots.

[timgcap=Agriculture Minister Michael Creed at the Bank of Ireland Virtual Reality Ploughing experience. Picture: Naoise Culhane]Ploughing2016Day3a_large.jpg[/timg]

Being the agriculture minister at the Ploughing Championships required buckets of something else — stamina and an attentive ear.

Michael Creed demonstrated both. He was on site at breakfast time, fulfilled more than 40 engagements, listened to the concerns of farmers and agri-business leaders, and gave multiple media interviews.

Attending his first Ploughing as minister, he was generally well-received by the farmers who firmly engaged with him on various issues facing their industry.

Kenny, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams were also out and about — the politicians and everybody else were in danger of tripping over one another on the busy walkways, where people were studying maps of the sprawing 800-acre site.

The broadcaster Ryan Tubridy, who was challenged by National Ploughing Association managing director Anna May McHugh on last Friday’s Late Late Show to have a go at ploughing, rose to the occasion and followed the furrow to the delight of spectators.

Tubs ploughed half a plot and had his work judged by Anna May, who praised his first-time efforts with tractor and plough. He said he had great fun and would like to do it again.

It was a nostalgic occasion for award-winning RTÉ journalist Frances Shanahan, who was reporting on her last Ploughing Championships before retiring at the end of the year. She has the distinction of having reported on every sitting of the two-year Beef tribunal.

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