Tuesday events, weather forecast, map and everything you need to know – The Irish Times
The making of brown bread, the President’s speech and the start of proper plowing are among the highlights of the National Plowing Championships in Rathenska, County Laois, on Tuesday.
The festival is attended by politicians including Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, and is expected to attract more than 300,000 people. Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald and Labor leader Ivana Bacic are also expected to attend.
Michael D. Higgins is also expected to give a speech to officially open the event on Tuesday.
But competitive events and fun on the sidelines also abound outside of politics. Here’s what to expect on Tuesday.
“It’s absolutely plowing weather,” says Anna Marie McHugh, associate director of the National Agricultural Association (NPA), adding that “jackets and raincoats” should not be forgotten. The worst conditions are expected on Tuesday, with forecasters forecasting a wet day and a “wet and windy” night.
What follows sounds like a mixed bag, but the NPA says it has done a lot to prepare for as comfortable a festival as possible since last Friday’s deluge. “We had to do a lot of remedial work,” McHugh says. “We had oil tankers, we had cleaners, all of that. It’s not a place for runners this year, it’s one of those years (for runners).”
Met Éireann has issued yellow wind and rain warnings for 15 counties, with flooding possible on the west coast from Tuesday morning.
While road conditions may be poor in many provinces, Laois is likely to be spared the worst of the wind and rain. However, conditions were already muddy early Tuesday.
9am-6pm: Former RTÉ journalist, Ciaran Mullooly, will be signing copies of his new book, The Future is Now, about rural development, life after RTÉ and a just transition, in Building 2, Row 25, Suite 382.
9.30 AM: The National Brown Bread Baking Semifinals begin at the Aldi booth in Building 1, Row 23, Suite 352.
10 AM – 4 PM: Muhr Club matches are held at Gate 13.
10.30 AM – 12 AM: The National Symphony Chorus directed by David Young, Athi Sing & Sign Club, and Barn Carlo Ballet perform at the bandstand, Block 3, Row 29, Stand 447.
10.30 AM – 2.30 PM: Although the National Plowing Championships can seem like they are about everything but plowing, the tournament begins with the traditional Furrow classes for adults and children and continues until 2.30pm.
11 am: Wild Workers will conduct a Q&A about the Wild Work collaboration project. The audience will get the chance to see their own virtual reality headsets to immerse themselves in a true biodiversity experience.
12:00: President Michael D. Higgins will officially open the 92nd Tournament at the Bandstand, Building 3, Row 29, Suite 447.
12.30 pm: TV presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin appears at the Equuip Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) marquee where he will receive guests from the racing world. The show will be repeated at 2:30 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He’s located in Building 4, Row 19, Suite 319.
2 pm: Farmfluencer Farmer Phil will be appearing at the Herdwatch stand in Building 3, Row 11, Suite 204. Farmer Phil, from Longford, has almost 80,000 followers on YouTube and many of his videos are going viral.
2.30 pm: Laoa Trad Orchestra and music generation at the bandstand, Block 3, Row 29, Stand 447.
2.30 pm: Winners of the National Brown Bread Baking Semi-Final will be announced.
6 pm: The results of the plowing championship will be announced from the bandstand, Building 3, Row 29, Stand 447.
Organizers say travelers to the event must book in advance, although entry tickets for €30 per day can be purchased, provided online sales result in tickets being sold out. Those who book via the website can receive discounts and group rates, with prices dropping to €15 for students in certain cases.
Daily crowds can range from 70,000 to more than last year’s single-day record of 115,000 people. Weather will likely be a factor in attendance, although this year the arena is also larger.
How to get there
With 202 hectares of the 323-hectare event site set aside for cars, event organizers are appealing for people to carpool if they haven’t already considered doing so. The site can accommodate a lot of vehicles — roughly 175 per acre — but much of that space will be held as surplus or reserve. For those traveling long distances, it should be noted that there are no charging points for electric cars on offer.
Éireann Buses will operate branch services from Athy, Portlaoise and Portarlington train stations, while hundreds of buses will transport visitors from across the island to Ratheniska, which it is hosting for the second year in a row.
The main event
There is no plowing without plowing. This year about 350 people will participate in 24 national competitions. As a reflection of the evolution of plowing – the NPA was founded in 1931 – competitions range from more modern reversing plows to horse-drawn types. The winners of the event are announced each evening on the bandstand, all leading up to the final All-Ireland awards and the announcement of who will represent Ireland internationally.
Everything, basically. Arguably the greatest appeal of plowing is the sheer variety of things to see and do. To prevent confusion, there is a free interactive smartphone guide to guide attendees through this year’s event site using GPS and a search function to help navigate its 1,700 stands. The handy Find My Car feature should help reduce the amount of time you spend trudging through mud at the end of the day.
Local enterprise village
More than 30 small businesses from across Ireland will be featured in this year’s Local Enterprise Village. A mix of entrepreneurial talent, it will highlight operators and products ranging from children’s clothing and toys, to artisan food and beverage producers, to sustainable fashion and beauty products.
The Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena will feature over 50 Irish agricultural businesses, all of whom must apply and qualify for a table at the party. This year’s applicants include startups that have been operating for less than five years as well as their more established counterparts. “This could include anything from agricultural technology machinery to the development of different equipment that can be used on farms,” says McHugh. “There’s mentoring, and there’s very big prize money as well. What’s very important is… there’s a lot of leads generated.” Competition categories include the ACE Agritech Award and the IFAC Best Newcomer Award. The winner of the best startup will receive €10,000.
A number of ‘mega’ marquees offer most things imaginable to festival-goers. Food, drink, homewares, lifestyle products and even financial advice will be offered in a sprawling area with hundreds of stalls. Such is its size, one of the most common questions organizers ask is what to do if you get lost. “It’s literally a stand-alone exhibition there, a huge show within a show,” McHugh says.
Not for the farm
There are plenty of oddities scattered around the expansive festival grounds. On Wednesday, Macra na Feirme is eyeing the prize, hoping to break the Guinness World Record of throwing more than 800 balls in one place at one time. The Irish engineering team will be on site with an ice cream serving robot and a twister machine. Anyone who feels they have seen a lot of plowing may be drawn to sheep shearing competitions, fashion shows, or even a place to thresh. Car shows, amusement rides, machinery shows and livestock shows are part of the annual festivities.