TV show previews National Ploughing Championships

The National Ploughing Championship is back this week for the first time in two years
TV show previews National Ploughing Championships

GOOD TO BE BACK: Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh (right) with Anna May McHugh, General Secretary of the World Ploughing Organisation

THE National Ploughing Championships have been an integral part of Irish rural life for almost 100 years.

The first inter-county ploughing contest was held between two counties - Wexford and Kildare - in 1931 in a 26-acre field in Athy in Kildare. Since then, it has mushroomed into the National Ploughing Championships and expanded to an area of more than 800 acres with 1,700 exhibitors over the three days.

The event now includes a tented trade village, live entertainment and music, fashion shows, a craft village, cooking demonstrations, sheep dog trials, pony games and other activities.

Almost 300,000 visitors attended the Ploughing in 2019 - the last time it was held because of Covid.

Now it is back for the first time in two years, and will be held in Laois from Tuesday to Thursday next week, September 20-22.

Except this year, it’s not just the National event but the International Ploughing Championships that are being held here.

The event first came to Cork in 1935, when it was held in Mallow, and has since been staged in Banteer in 1968, Watergrasshill in 1974 and 1979, Carrigtwohill in 1992, Castletownroche in 1999, and in Mogeely, near Midleton in 2005.

There is a preview of the 2022 Ploughing Championships on the eve of the event, on Nationwide on RTÉ1 on Monday (September 19) at 7pm.

During the three days, there are hundreds of stands and small competitions held, one of those is a Brown Bread baking championship and Bláthnaid Ní Chofaugh recently went along to a qualifying heat.

She also visited the site at Ratheniska where the work of building the infrastructure for this event was well underway, and met with Anna May McHugh, General Secretary of the World Ploughing Organisation, who tells us all about this year’s Championships.

Anna May grew up on a farm in Ballylinan, Co Laois, and has worked with the National Ploughing Association for 66 years, serving as its secretary for 21 years until 1973, when she was appointed its Managing Director.

In that time, the National Ploughing Championships has become Europe’s largest outdoor agricultural trade exhibition.

An event like this is an opportunity for a county to show off what it has to offer the visitor and reporter, Colm Flynn has been to see some of its attractions.

Also in Nationwide on Monday, Mary Fanning reports on the recent Dublin Horse Show and meets some of the competitors and exhibitors who were there for its running since Covid.

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