RATHENISKA is in line to host the World Ploughing Championships in 2021.
Speaking last Tuesday at the official opening of this year’s National Ploughing Championships (NPA), which was performed by President Michael D Higgins, NPA Anna managing director May McHugh said: “When Ireland hosts the World Ploughing Championships it will be held here in Ratheniska.”
This year’s world event, which begins this week, takes place in Denmark. Next year it will be staged in Britain, and Kenya in 2017. Ireland is earmarked to host the event in six years’ time.
The national three-day event in Ratheniska drew a record crowd of 281,000, according to the organisers. The first day saw 77,500 people in attendance. This was a reduction of 4,500 on last year’s figures. However, on Wednesday, 127,000 flocked to the Carter farm lands in Ratheniska, 4,500 up on the same day as last year. On the final day, 76,500 people attended what has now become Europe’s biggest outdoor exhibition and agricultural trade show.
This was the third consecutive year that the championships were been held in Ratheniska. In 2013 − and 70 years on since the ploughing was first held in Laois in nearby lands at Lamberton in 1943 − a record 220,000 people attended. Last year, that figure increased to 279,000, and again this year a record-breaking attendance of 281,000.
More than 1,500 trade stands were on display, covering all aspects of Irish life.
Organisers event estimate that visitors to the championships spent in the region of €37 million, which resulted in a tax take of about €7 million for Revenue. It is also estimated that 80% of attendees were from outside the county.
Many local people benefited financially by opening up their homes and providing accommodation to the thousands who attended. Local businesses along the approach routes also saw an increase in footfall.
Heavy showers on Monday night threatened to put a damper on proceedings but the rain held off for the duration of the event, with just a few light drizzles each day.
The fashion shows, wellie-throwing competitions, pole climbing and celebrity cooking events drew massive crowds. Numerous stars from the worlds of sport and music as well as politicians and TV personalities were spotted among the throngs of people.
There were heavy traffic flows to and from the site for the duration of the championships, with a few traffic delays encountered each day.
Speaking at the close of business on Thursday, Mrs McHugh said: “We are delighted with the overall attendance figure this year. Traffic to and from the site has been moving well all week and credit is due to An Garda Síochána in no small part and the traffic management plan they put in place. With record numbers attending, everyone expected to meet some hold-ups, but the traffic was kept flowing at all times, with only the very minimum of delays.”
The organisers heaped prise on the hundreds of volunteers, local people and organisations that had helped out to ensure the success of the event.
Mrs McHugh announced that next year’s event will be held at Screggan, Tullamore from 20-22 September.