VIRTUAL kayaking, a 'wall of wool' and a range of traditional music performances are just some of the attractions set to keep festival-goers happy when Ireland’s annual National Ploughing Championships return next week.
The event, which takes place from September 19-22, returns to Ratheniska, Co Laois for a second year, where the best of traditional Irish culture, crafts and ploughing will be on show.
The Irish Government’s Department for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media will be on site for the duration of the event, they confirmed today, with a range of activities on offer from their Culture, Creativity, Innovation and Sport Marquee, which will be located within the Government of Ireland Village.
Creative Ireland, Sport Ireland, Screen Ireland and the Council of National Cultural Institutions will all have exhibition stands in the marquee, which will be “fully staffed over the three days to welcome visitors”.
Sport Ireland will be on hand promoting the various opportunities for sport across the nation, while Screen Ireland, the national agency for the Irish film, television drama, animation and documentary industry, will have a dedicated information stand.
In particular they will showcase their National Talent Academies – a skills-led initiative to support the development of a diverse creative talent and crew base nationwide at all levels.
Marking the centenary of Ireland joining the League of Nations in 1923, the Department will also feature the National Archives’ Exhibition On an Equal Footing with All: Ireland at the League of Nations, 1923-1946.
The exhibition is part of the Government of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries’ 2012-2023 National Programme, with the National Archives, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Irish Academy.
It explores the early ambitions of the new Irish state as it asserted its independence within an international framework, and the lasting impact it had on modern diplomacy.
Another featured exhibition will be the Wall of Wool, a large-scale public participation project produced by Creative Ireland that will centre around knitting, crafting and the Irish Wool Industry.
The project invites visitors to the Ploughing Championships to participate in small scale knitting challenges that will be added to the Wall of Wool, which when completed will measure 8 metres by 2.5 metres.
Other activities being offered by the Department include virtual reality kayaking and virtual reality golf, percussion workshops and a harvest knot demonstration.
They will also support a range of performances by traditional bands and groups during the event, including a performance by the Malva Ukrainian Choir, which consists of 25 members of the Ukrainian community who have been living in County Laois.
Speaking ahead of the event, Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and the Media, Catherine Martin, said: "Arts, culture and sport has strong representation at the National Ploughing Championships again this year with a fantastic line up of events and experiences planned.
“Talented musicians from many different backgrounds and traditions will be a great source of entertainment to the visiting audience over the three days of the event.
“While experiences such as virtual reality and augmented reality will allow visitors to immerse themselves in new creative technologies. In addition to our craft, music workshops and exhibits, the Marquee has something for everyone to enjoy."
She added: “I particularly encourage visitors to attend the National Archives exhibition: On an Equal Footing with All: Ireland at the League of Nations, 1923-1946. This exhibition will bring a pivotal time in our country’s history alive and will showcase official documents, photographs, recollections, letters and ephemera, and chart the exciting early adventures of the new State as it began to forge its international identity."
“I wish the very best of luck to all who are exhibiting, performing, and participating in workshops and sharing their knowledge and creative practice as part of my Department’s schedule of events.”
The National Ploughing Championships take place from September 19-22, for further information click here.