Final plans made for ploughing event


THE NATIONAL Ploughing Association is hoping many visitors to the championships, which begin tomorrow in Athy, will use public transport to ease traffic delays.

It has arranged train and bus links with Iarnród Éireann and Bus Éireann to Athy, Kildare and Portarlington stations. It hopes at least seven to 10 per cent of patrons will use public transport.

A spokeswoman for the association said a specially devised traffic plan should also help to reduce delays. With more than 180,000 visitors expected at the championships, which will be opened by President Mary McAleese tomorrow, pressure is mounting on all services in the area.

“Accommodation is scarce, but still available in a 20-mile radius and we have noticed in recent days the public coming forward to offer rooms in their homes,” she said.

As this will be the last major opportunity for politicians to meet the public before the Lisbon vote, all leaders of the main political parties will be on the Cardenton site, on the outskirts of Athy this week.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen will attend the event on Thursday, the Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny will attend on Wednesday and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore is also due to attend. A number of Government Ministers will also attend, including Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith. The event, which is the largest ploughing championship in the world and the largest outdoor agricultural event in Europe, will also be the hustings for the IFA presidential election candidates to replace Padraig Walshe next January.

The traffic plan will see seven designated routes with traffic from the southeast using the M9 and the N78 turning right at Russelstown to Bert Bridge. Traffic from Dublin and the North uses the N7/M7, taking the Monastrevin following the Athy Road through Kildangan and Kilberry.

Traffic from the west and via Tullamore uses the N80 via Mountmellick. It proceeds via Emo, Vicarstown to Bawn Hill and Moatstown.

Traffic from Limerick and the southwest is being directed from the M7 at exit 16 on the N80 for Stradbally, turning left on the outskirts taking the R427 to Vicarstown and on to the main Athy road. Traffic from Cork and southern counties will be directed through Abbeyleix, right for Ballyroan onto the R425 for Stradbally and Timahoe, where traffic turns left for Stradbally.

There will be a left turn on to the N80 for Carlow to Ballinturbet and Castlemitchell.

Kilkenny traffic will divert to Castlecomer on the N78 to Athy via Ballylinan. Before Athy it turns left to Goulyduff and onto a one-way system via Kilcross.

Traffic from Carlow and the southeast will exit the M9 at Castledermot entering Carlow town and on to the N80 Portlaoise road towards Stradbally, through Ballickmoyler and Arless. At Simmons Cross, it turns right and joins Kilkenny traffic.

Park-and-ride facilities will be provided from most of the car parks not located near the site.

The public has been advised to allow at least 60 minutes to exit on site car parks each day.