Ploughing 2016: ‘Turn off the sat-nav and have patience’

Traffic delays ease as thousands travel to Co Offaly for national championships

 

Traffic delays have been reported on Tuesday morning as thousands are making their way to the first day of the National Ploughing Championships in Co Offaly.

About 300,000 people are expected to attend the three day championships at its new venue at Screggan, 5km outside Tullamore.

Wellies might not be mandatory on Tuesday as Met Éireann said it would be mostly dry and cloudy, with temperatures of 15-17 degrees.

AA Roadwatch has reported delays on the N52 Birr Rd and Cloghan Rd (R357) towards Screggan through the morning.

It also said there are delays heading north into Birr on the N62 Roscrea/Birr Rd and on the Borrisokane/ Banagher Rd (R438).

By lunchtime, traffic delays heading towards Screggan on the Cloghan Rd towards Blue Ball had eased.

Delays on the roads heading into Birr and the Tullamore Rd (N52) into Kilcormac have also eased.

Motorists from south Munster are being advised not to access the 800-acre site by the usual route to the town, which is to turn off the M8 motorway at Portlaoise and proceed through Tullamore.

Instead, they should get off at Junction 6 (Horse and Jockey) and follow the signs through Thurles, Templemore and Roscrea.

Otherwise, they could get caught in traffic going through both Portlaoise and Tullamore.

“If motorists don’t turn off the Dublin motorway when they should, we are in trouble,” said Anna May McHugh, the ploughing managing director.

“If everybody takes the routes they are being asked to take, we should be okay.”

Insp John Lawless of Tullamore Garda Station said the site is more challenging than other years, as it is just on the fringes of the town.

The busy N52 between Birr and Tullamore will be blocked off in both directions to facilitate traffic.

He advised motorists to follow the signs, turn off the sat-nav and “just have patience. There is a massive effort being put in, but we’re into the unknown and we will not know how it works until Tuesday morning”.

Bus Éireann will operate a shuttle service from Tullamore train station to the venue from 7am to 11.30am, with return journeys running from 1.45pm to 6.30pm.

It will also operate a park and ride facility from one of the event’s largest car parks direct to the exhibition site.

Gardaí have asked people to plan their route with the help of the advice they have issued.