More than 250,000 to attend National Ploughing Championships

Preview: Event will take place in Fenagh, Co Carlow, from Tuesday to Thursday

More than 250,000 visitors are to descend on Co Carlow this week for the annual National Ploughing Championships. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

More than 250,000 visitors are to descend on Co Carlow this week for the annual National Ploughing Championships. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times


More than 250,000 visitors, as well as exhibitors, buyers and guests from more than a dozen countries, are to descend on Co Carlow this week for the annual National Ploughing Championships.

The event, now in its 88th year, will take place in Ballintrane, Fenagh, from Tuesday to Thursday. It is designed to showcase Irish food, farming and culture.

Representatives from Turkey, the US, the UK, Uganda, Germany, India, Poland, Ghana, Belgium, New Zealand, France, Saudi Arabia, Latvia and the Netherlands will also take part.

All sectors of the food chain are represented this year, from producer to retailer, with artisan foods, craft beers, celebrity chefs, and cookery competitions.

There will be millions of euro worth of agricultural and plant machinery on display featuring an extensive range of cutting edge agricultural technology and equipment, with the opportunity to see these in action in the machinery demonstration area.

Manufacturers and agents will be present, with specialist sales advisers and technical experts available for free consultations.

Visitors can take the opportunity to admire livestock on display and learn about livestock management, genetics, nutrition and healthcare. This year will also see the introduction of a new agritech pavilion which will include interactive demonstrations.

The British embassy will showcase UK agritech at this year’s championships for the first time.

The tech being showcased includes “Norman the farming robot”, an autonomous precision scouting and spraying robot developed by Harper Adams University.


Norman demonstrations will take place at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm in the demonstration area, on all three days of the event. There will also be demonstrations in platooning, vision systems and laser weeding.

Organisers have this year pledged that the event will be “green”, with sustainability at its core. They have said no waste will go to landfill, as a segregated waste collection system has been put in place.

Visitors will be presented with a three-bin system, covering food waste (which will be converted into electricity by an anaerobic digester), mixed dry recyclables and general waste.

Blue Route - Traffic travelling from Cork/Munster area

  • Traffic travelling Northbound on the M8 will exit at Junction 4, Urlingford. Traffic will then proceed to Johnstown and Durrow via the R639.
  • At Durrow traffic will proceed towards Ballyragget via the N77 and continue on the N77 to the Kilkenny.
  • Traffic will travel on the Kilkenny ring road to the Hebron Road Roundabout turning left onto the N10, direction M9 Dublin/Carlow.
  • Traffic will keep Left at the fork and join the M9 at Junction 8, signposted M9/Dublin/Carlow.
  • Continue on M9 and exit at Junction 6, Powerstown and continue on R448 (Old Kilkenny Road) towards Carlow.
  • Turn Right at Milford Cross to Ballyloo Cross Roads and continue onto Graiguenaspiddogue Cross.
  • At Graiguenaspiddogue Cross turn right on the N80 and Blue Car Park entrance will be on the right.

Patrons on the Blue Route will be directed to the designated Blue Car Park on the right hand side. Traffic will also be directed to turn right at Fighting Cocks towards Nurney to the designated Blue Car Park
where patrons will be parking on the left." /> Return Journey: "Patrons on Blue Route will return on Blue Route staying on N80 to Junction 5, M9 South (Kilkenny)."

Yellow Route – Traffic travelling from Waterford

  • Traffic travelling Northbound on the M9 from Waterford will exit at Junction 9, Danesfort.  Traffic will then proceed towards Bennettsbridge.
  • Traffic will proceed through Bennettsbridge and onto the Gowran Road.
  • Traffic will be diverted right in Gowran and travel towards Goresbridge via the R702.
  • Traffic will continue through Goresbridge to Borris and turn left at Kavanagh’s Public House onto the Fenagh Road.
  • Traffic will continue to Fenagh and will be directed through the village of Fenagh to Lumcloon and onto the event site.

Patrons on the Yellow Route will be directed to the designated Yellow Car Park on the right hand side.
Return Journey:
Patrons  on  Yellow  Route  will  return  on  Yellow  Route  to  Gowran,  turning  right  and  continuing  to Paulstown following signage to Junction 7, M9 towards Waterford."

Brown Route – Traffic travelling from Limerick

  • Traffic  travelling  Northbound  on  the  M7  will  exit  at  Junction  21,  Borris-In-Ossory.   Traffic  will then proceed to Ballacolla via the R434.
  • Traffic will turn left at traffic lights in Ballacolla and travel towards Abbeyleix via the R433.
  • Traffic will turn left off the R433 in Abbeyleix and continue towards the traffic lights.
  • Traffic will then turn right onto the Carlow Road, R430 and proceed towards The Swan.
  • Traffic will travel through The Swan towards Newtown Cross.
  • At  Newtown  Cross  traffic  will  turn  left  and  take  an  immediate  right  at  Flemings  Public  House, signposted Carlow.
  • At Molloys Cross, Tolerton, traffic will turn right onto the R431, signposted Castlecomer.
  • Continue on the Castlecomer Road before taking a left onto the L3896, signposted Rossmore.
  • Traffic will travel through Ballinabranagh towards Milford.
  • At the T-Junction at Milford Lough trafffic will turn right, signposted Leighlinbridge and continue straight   to   the   T-Junction   with   the   R448,   the   old   Carlow/Kilkenny   Road,   opposite   The Arbouretum Garden Centre.
  • Traffic  will  then  turn  left  towards  Leighlinbridge  and  then  turn  righ  at  the  R705,  signposted Leighlinbridge.
  • Traffic  will  continue  into  Leighlinbridge  before  turning  left  onto  the  Tullow  Road  at  The  Lord Bagenal Hotel.
  • Traffic will continue on the Tullow Road towards the Harrow Cross and onwards towards Nurney.
  • Traffic will continue through Nurney Village and will be directed towards the event site.

Patrons on the Brown Route will be directed to the designated Brown Car Park on the right hand side.

Purple Route – Traffic travelling from Dublin/Northern Route

  • Traffic travelling from Dublin/M50 will travel on the M7, Naas, exiting onto the M9 at Junction 11, signposted Waterford/Kilkenny/Kilcullen.
  • Traffic    will    continue   on    the    M9    and    exit    at    Junction    4,    Prumplestown,    signposted Carlow/Castledermot.
  • Traffic  will  enter  the  roundabout  and  take  the  third  exit  and  continue  towards  Carlow  on  the R448.
  • Traffic  will  contine  on  the  R448  to  the  roundabout  at  MSD  and  take  the  first  exit,  signposted Hacketstown/Tullow.
  • Traffic  will  continue  to  the  T-Junction  with  the  Hacketstown  Road  and  turn  left  travelling  to Bennekerry Cross and turning right.
  • Traffic will contine to next T-Junction at Kernanstown and turn right to Sion Cross.
  • At Sion Cross traffic will turn left, signposted Rathoe."
  • Traffic  will  continue  to  Kellistown  Cross  turning  right,  signposted  Fighting  Cocks  and  will  be directed towards the event site.

Patrons on the Purple Route will be directed to the designated Purple Car Park on the right hand side.
Return Journey:
Patrons on Purple Route will return on Purple Route to Staplestown where they will be diverted left to Kilmeany and onto M9.

Green Route – Traffic travelling from Galway/West

  • Traffic travelling from the West will exit M6 at Junction 5 and travel the N52 to Tullamore.
  • Traffic  will  travel  on  the  N52  to  the  Clonminch  roundabout  taking  the  first  exit  onto  the  N80, signposted Portlaoise/Mountmellick.
  • Traffic will travel through Mountmellick towards Emo on the R422.
  • Traffic will continue through Emo to New Inn Cross roundabout at Finline Furniture and turn left onto the R445, signposted Vicarstown.
  • Traffic will continue past The Gandon Inn and take the second exit off the roundabout, following the signs for Vicarstown R422.
  • Traffic will continue to Vicarstown, taking caution over the bridge, and continue along the R427 to the Cloney Cross Roads T-Junction with the R417.
  • Traffic will then turning right and travel towards Kilberry as far as Bert Cross.
  • At Bert Cross traffic will turn left onto the L8067 and continue to Russlestown Cross.
  • Traffic will turn right at Russlestown Cross towards Athy.
  • At the roundabout in Athy take the first exit, signposted Ballitore N78.
  • Traffic will travel towards Ballitore/Timolin and turn right onto the Castledermot Road, R448.
  • Traffic will continue through Castledermot and turn left at O’Neill’s Public House for Tullow.
  • Traffic  will  continue  through  Killerrig  Cross  to  Bohernabeakey  T-Junction,  turning  right  for Grangeford.
  • At Grangeford T-Junction traffic will turn right and then left and travel to Rathoe.
  • Traffic will travel through Rathoe and will continue towards Carlow Precast turning right onto the N80 and will be directed towards the event site.

Patrons on the Green Route will be directed to the designated Green Car Park on the left  hand side. Overflow traffic on this route will be parking on the right hand side of the N80.

Grey Route – Traffic travelling from Wexford

  • Traffic travelling from Wexford will travel on the N80 towards Bunclody.
  • Traffic will enter Bunclody and continue straight through Bunclody towards Carlow.
  • Traffic will continue through Ballon on the N80 and continue past Ballykealey House on the left.
  • Traffic will be directed towards the event site.

Patrons on the Grey Route will be directed to the designated Grey Car Park on the left hand side.

Orange Route –Wicklow Traffic

  • Traffic travelling on the N81 from the Blessington direction will continue to Baltinglass.
  • Traffic will travel through Baltinglass to Rathvilly and continue on the N81 to Tullow.
  • Traffic will travel through Tullow and over the bridge to Closh Cross on the N81.
  • Traffic  will  turn  right  at  Closh  Cross  onto  the  N80  and  will  continue  through  Ballon  past Ballykealey House on the left.
  • Traffic will be directed towards the event site.

Patrons on the Orange Route will be directed to the designated Grey Car Park on the left hand side.

There will also be bottle recycling units throughout the site. Caterers are ensuring that as many of their single use items as possible are made from compostable materials and are also offering a 50 cent reusable cup discount for all teas and coffees.

Organisers have said there will be an “unprecedented number” of diverse businesses at the event, exhibiting at the “Local Enterprise Village”. The Innovation Arena also returns to showcase technologies and cutting edge ideas.

Following entries from all across the country and Northern Ireland, the number preparing to plough in Carlow stands at more than 300 for the three days. This year the introduction of the new novice reversible class will attract more young people into the competition.

Among the other attractions set to return this year are fashion shows, sheep shearing, hunt chase, a fun fair, a food trail, craft demonstrations, pony games, live music and dancing, vintage ploughing, threshing, loy digging, and a motor show.

The event will be officially opened on Tuesday by President Michael D Higgins. The day will also feature a musical performance by Sabrina Fallon on the bandstage.

On Wednesday, the Kirwan Academy of Irish Dance will perform on the bandstand, the best dressed “country style” award winner will be announced and there will be a junior hunt chase taking place.

On Thursday, Crystal Swing will close out the show at the bandstand, there will be horse ploughing classes from 10.30am and the final of the junior fudge cake baking competition will take place throughout the day.

Gardaí are reminding those making the journey to plan it carefully, select the appropriate route and follow directions of gardaí and stewards.

Traffic plans

Following consultation with event organisers, the local authority and other stakeholders a comprehensive traffic management plan has been put in place ahead of the event, with seven separate traffic routes.

Motorists coming from Waterford should travel northbound on the N9 and follow the yellow route. Traffic from Wexford will travel on the N80 towards Bunclody and follow the grey route.

Attendees coming from Wicklow should take the N81 and then follow the orange route.

Travellers coming from Galway or the west should exit the M6 at junction 5 and travel along the N52 where they will follow the green route.

Traffic from Dublin and northern counties should travel along the M7 and exit onto the M9 at junction 11, where they will follow the purple signs.

People travelling from Cork and the Munster area should travel northbound along the M8 and follow the blue route. Traffic from Limerick will travel northbound on the M7 and should take the brown route.

Organisers have advised attendees to take the train if possible, adding that drivers should factor in at least double the normal journey time due to heavy volumes of traffic.

Speaking at Carlow Garda station, Chief Supt Dominic Hayes said: “We would advise anyone travelling to the site to visit and identify the traffic route appropriate to them and not to use or rely on sat nav devices.

“Allow ample journey time, follow the directional signage and instructions of Garda personnel and stewards along the route and above all drive safely.”

Bus Éireann are also running shuttle buses between Carlow train station and the site of the competition for those who are taking public transport.

Met Éireann has said the forecast for the three days will be “slightly warmer than normal”.

There will be some early morning mist on each of the three days which will clear in the late morning and make way for some dry, warm conditions.

“There will be high pressure dominating the weather on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and even into Friday. Temperatures will be in the high teens, reaching 18 on Wednesday and 19 on Thursday. It will be ideal conditions for the ploughing,” a forecaster said.