97,500 enjoy first day of 'Ploughing'
Spirits were high and the atmosphere electric despite the occasional shower, visitors poured in the gates from early morning today to embrace the ‘Ploughing’ experience. With 97,500 attendees enjoying everything from farming to fashion, artisan foods to top-of-the range machinery, quality livestock and ploughing competitions of an excellent standard.
This year’s event, the 87th National Ploughing Championships, at Screggan, Tullamore, is a perfect example of the very best of what Ireland has to offer for people of all interests and sensibilities, organiser Anna May McHugh, stated.
President Michael D Higgins officially launched the event, paying tribute to Anna May McHugh, the Gardaí, Offaly County Council and the hundreds of volunteers and staff that are required to stage the event. Prior to this, he visited the ploughing plots to meet ploughing competitors. Having witnessed the high standard of competition he then chatted with the county representatives, he also attended and visited several exhibitors to experience and witness all that the championships has to offer.
The highly anticipated and prestigious Machine of the Year competition result was also announced with congratulations going to Agri-Spread International for their Automatic GPS section control on their equipment with a double belt system and precision Ag controllers. The judges Melvin Bailey Brofi International, UCD’s Kevin McDonald and Wilfried Wolf from DLG were extremely impressed with the strength of the entries in this inaugural competition.
Anna May McHugh stated this evening: “We are extremely pleased with the fantastic turnout today. The traffic flowed with ease thanks to the guard’s fantastic traffic management and visitor co-operation. Everywhere you looked people were smiling and enjoying themselves at a whole array of activities.”
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland will be hosting an exhibition stand at the event, offering a warm welcome to everyone. As the event takes place within the diocesan boundary of Meath and Kildare the dioceses will organise the Church of Ireland stand. Rector of Tullamore, Revd Isaac Delamere, said: “You can be assured of a warm welcome at the Church of Ireland stand, which provides a valuable space in the midst of the busyness of the event to rest and have a cup of tea and a chat. For those who wish to pray there will be a member of the clergy available or you may place your prayer requests on the prayer tree. It’s also an opportunity to discover more about the Church of Ireland. There will also be a ‘kids corner’, where children can play.”
The statistics for the National Ploughing Championships speak for themselves. In previous years, it has had 1700 exhibitors occupying almost two million feet of trade space, and 291,500 visitors. This all represents a very important event, attended by people the length and breadth of the island, and beyond. Last year visitors to the Championships spent just under €36.5 million during the three days of the event.
Bishop Pat Storey of Meath and Kildare said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to welcome people. The event is a significant part of the fabric of the wider community. As well as hospitality, we can share who we are and what we believe, as the Church of Ireland. We offer a warm welcome to every visitor.” The Church of Ireland tent can be found row 10, number 230.