THE NATIONAL Ploughing Championships this week returns to Ratheniska, Co Laois, for the first time since 2019 following two years of cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Approximately 300,000 visitors are expected to attend the event being held over the next three days.
This year's event will also see the staging of the 67th World Ploughing Contest which had been due to be held in St Petersburg, Russia in August.
26 competitors from countries around the world will take part, including some from New Zealand, Canada and Australia, with the competition beginning tomorrow and finishing on Thursday.
World Ploughing Organization General Secretary Anna Marie McHugh said in the lead up to the event:
“It is a massive honour for Ireland to welcome international delegations and their supporters from 28 countries all around the globe.
Where the very best plough men and women in the world will be battling it out to be crowned ‘World Champion’. International teams have been arriving for the past few weeks and it is fantastic to have some of these teams here with us today.”
The first inter- county ploughing contest took place in 1931 as a result of an argument between two lifelong friends, Denis Allen of Gorey, County Wexford and JJ Bergin of Athy, County Kildare.
Each argued that their respective counties had the best ploughmen and this resulted in a challenge being called for.
Therefore on Monday 16th of February 1931, the first National Ploughing contest took place in Mr W.K. Hosie’s field at Coursetown in Athy.
Since then, the National Ploughing Championships has grown in size, year on year.
National Ploughing Championships has now become much more than just an annual inter-county competition; it has become an intrinsic part of Irish rural life.
It is also no longer just for ploughing or machinery enthusiasts, the modern event now features something for just about every member of the community.
These include a tented trade village, a food fair, craft village, livestock, forestry, education, lifestyle, financial services, bio energy and agri service.
Along with this, there are many entertainment and special events taking place.
Some of these include: fashion shows, celebrity guests, sheep dog trials, loy digging, lamb shearing, craft demonstrations, meggers, celebrity cookery demonstrations, outdoor radio broadcasts and much more.