Ploughing championships 2018: everything you need to know
It may be wet, there will be mud, smells are unavoidable and the President will be there
President Michael D Higgins officially opened the 87th National Ploughing Championships on Tuesday.
Traffic is reported to be a little busy approaching the site which opened in Tullamore, Co Offaly this morning.
An estimated 291,500 visitors are expected to attend the three-day event
The N52 Mucklagh bypass is closed and a one-way system is in place on the route from the Blue Ball to the site.
AA Roadwatch reports that traffic approaching the site from both directions on the N52 remains “a little busy”.
The championships, which run from September 18th to 20th in Screggan, will include more than 300 competitors with some 1,700 vendors exhibiting their products.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will attend Europe’s largest outdoor event on Wednesday along with Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys. Minister for Foreign affairs Charlie Flanagan will attend the event on Thursday and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed is also expected to attend.
Tickets can be purchased on arrival. Adult tickets cost €20 each while senior citizens/students cost €15. Children under 12 go free when accompanied by an adult.
Traffic and parking
Traffic coming from the south east should travel along the N77 via Durrow and Abbeyleix before arriving in Portlaoise. From there, vehicles will be directed through Clonminham, onto the N80 towards Mountmellick and through Rosenallis and Clonaslee. Visitors on this route will park in the grey car parks.
Traffic coming from the south east is directed to take the N80 towards Portlaoise and then to the designated yellow car park beside the grounds at Screggan.
Traffic from Dublin will be pointed towards the purple car park and traffic from the North will be directed into the pink car park. The green car park will cater to visitors from western counties and the orange car park will hold spaces for vehicles travelling from Kildare.
There will be wheelchair/disability parking spaces allocated in all car parks as close to the event entrances as possible. There is also provision for bus parking.
The site of the ploughing championships is 110km from Dublin, 210km from Cork, 272km from Belfast and 163km from Rosslare.
The main exhibition area will be open from 9am to 6pm each day while the ploughing competitions run from 10.30am to 2.30pm. There will be three fashion shows, running at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm, on each day.
Highlights of the three-day event include sheep shearing, live tractor build, sheep dog trials, loy digging, the meggars competition and the national brown bread baking event. There is also a junior baking event and funfair for children.
Former Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry will attend on Wednesday, September 19th, as a guest judge at the National Dairy Council’s afternoon tea competition, where she will sample the baking expertise of three finalists - a home economics teacher, a cardiac physiologist and IT specialist.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has invited visitors to stop by to learn about Ireland’s work in the EU, the Irish Aid programme, the consular service and Ireland’s trading relationships overseas. There is a special section with information on preparations for Brexit. The stand is also marking 25 years of diplomatic relations between Ireland and South Africa.
Visitors can also apply for a passport directly from the Ploughing with free digital passport photographs available.
Those coming to the ploughing are encouraged to travel by train and walk the 10-minute journey from Tullamore station to the site where a shuttle bus runs to the entrance gate. The shuttle bus costs €5 child return, €9 adult return and €20 family return (two adults and maximum of three children).
Drivers are warned to factor in at least double the normal journey time due to predicted heavy volumes of traffic.
The Garda has designated eight colour-coded routes to and from the championships. Those travelling northbound on the N8 from Cork/Munster should exit at Junction 6 and proceed towards Screggan. Visitors on this route will park in the designated blue car parks on the left and right hand sides beside the event grounds.
Visitors are also advised to dress appropriately (ie warmly!) for the event and to wear suitable footwear for rough terrain. They can also download the ploughing app for live event and traffic updates.
Wet and windy weather is expected to hit the country over the coming days as the downgraded tropical storm Helene crosses over Ireland.
Tuesday will begin with sunny spells but rain will extend across the country throughout the afternoon. It will become blustery with moderate to fresh and gusty winds and temperatures of 17 to 20 degrees.
Wednesday morning will be wet and windy, however, the rain is expected to clear during the afternoon. Thursday will be wet for most of the day with the heaviest rain in the south and the east.