Without a doubt, the best show in the land


Frequently in rural Ireland the success of major events is judged by the size of the traffic jams and the presence of the Garda helicopter.

That being the case, Tullamore National Livestock Show came of age yesterday when it generated long tailbacks and delays of as long as 1½ hours to get into the grounds.

That being said, the organisers had not expected upwards of 50,000 people at the beautiful Charleville estate on the outskirts of Tullamore for an event that has been growing steadily into the foremost agricultural show in the country over the past decade.

While the show got the attendance it deserved, it also got top marks from the woman who has created more queues than anyone else in rural Ireland, Anna May McHugh, the woman who runs the National Ploughing Championships.

"It is a wonderful show, the best in the country and the quality of the animals that are here are just the best you will see anywhere," she says.

With its 920 classes and 40 national titles and a prize fund of €145,000, the sheer scale of the show, which was revived in the early 1990s, is now enormous.

For instance there were 350 trade and machinery stands, 150 acres of a show area, 8,000 car spaces, which were all needed yesterday, 185,000 square feet of tented village and just about everything for sale from a cattle prod to a €60,000 sports car.