Hat trick for Laois as ploughing returns for third year

Decision on National Ploughing Championships follows most successful year ever

Competitors on the third and final day of Ploughing at the National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska, Co Laois, this year. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Competitors on the third and final day of Ploughing at the National Ploughing Championships at Ratheniska, Co Laois, this year. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

The National Ploughing Championships will be held in Ratheniska, near Stradbally, Co Laois for the third year in a row next year, the National Ploughing Association has announced.

Its managing director Anna May McHugh made the announcement at the prize-giving banquet for this year’s winning ploughing competitors in Portlaoise.

It had originally been understood the event would move to Tullow, Co Carlow, next year but after the first day of this year’s event, speculation began to mount that it would remain in Co Laois for a third year.

It was widely accepted that this year’s event was the most successful ever, attracting the biggest crowds and the highest number of exhibitors. The efficient traffic control and good weather all boosted the large turnout and the laying of extra wide walkways made it easier to negotiate the crowds.

Some 279,500 people attended the championships over the three days, an increase of 51,500 on last year’s figures. Wednesday was the busiest day with 124,500 in attendance.

The last venue to host the National Ploughing Championships for three years in a row was Athy when it held the event in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The first ploughing contest was held there in 1931 so it retained the event in 2011 to mark the 80th anniversary.

Research in recent years suggested that the three-day festival generates some €36.5 million for the economy but this year’s event was thought to have generated much more due to the increased crowds and growth in the number of stands.

Eamonn Tracey of Carlow and John Whelan from New Ross both came out on top again at this year’s ploughing event, winning the conventional and reversible competitions. They will now represent Ireland at the World Ploughing Championships in Denmark next year.