THE 88th Ploughing Championships last week broke all attendance records, with 297,000 people attending the event in Fenagh over the three days, including more than 81,000 going through the gates on the last day alone.
That makes it the best-attended Ploughing Championships since they began in 1931.
The previous record attendance, set in 2017, was 291,500 – an increase of some 5,500 attendees, according to the association.
Bright, sunny weather and good conditions well suited to exploring the sprawling ‘Ploughing’ site played an important role in large crowds descending on the venue of Fenagh, Co. Carlow, for all three days of the yearly event.
The overall attendance figure is well up on the total figure of 240,700 from last year’s NPA attendance records, bouncing back well from a difficult 2018. Heavily impacted by bad weather and Storm Ali, the 2018 event saw approximately 61,700 people flocked through the gates on the final day – with this year’s equivalent up.
The final day of the 2019 event saw Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin in attendance, where he ruled out the Taoiseach’s suggestion of a grand coalition with Fine Gael after next year’s election.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said the voices of beef farmers have been heard “loud and clear”, warning that farmers “live or die” by international trade and many other countries would happily take their place if beef supplies were disrupted.
Fresh from his talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was also at the championships. He said a Brexit deal would have to be hammered out in advance of any EU Council meeting as it wouldn’t happen “at 5am with 27 Prime Ministers and their teams trying to write up a treaty”.
Meanwhile, Carlow ploughman Eamon Tracey is to get another go at a World Title, following the Garryhill man winning an unbelievable 10th National Title in a row in Ballintrane which will now see him heading off to Russia. He has only recently come back from the World championships in Minnesota with a Silver medal.
John Sutton, President of the National Ploughing Association, said Tracey’s victory was a remarkable achievement especially considering his own tractor and plough were not back from the US in time for last week’s national event.