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National Ploughing Championships

The National Ploughing Championships (Irish: Comórtas Náisiúnta Treabhdóireachta)(previously known as The National Ploughing Championships Machinery & Livestock Exhibition[1][2]) or (NPC) is an outdoor agricultural show in Ireland incorporating a ploughing contest.[3] Held every September, it draws over 1500 exhibitors and achieves attendances of over 200,000.[3][3]

National Ploughing Championships
PloughingCarlow.jpg
View of the National Ploughing Championships held in Tullamore, County Offaly, 2007
Status Active
Genre Agriculture
Venue Varies
Location(s) Tullamore, Offaly (current)
Country Ireland
Inaugurated 1931
Attendance 291,500 (2017)
Organized by National Ploughing Association
Website
npa.ie

Contents

HistoryEdit

The first Irish inter-county ploughing contest was held between County Wexford and County Kildare on 16 February 1931 in a 26-acre field at Coursetown in Athy.[4] Since then,the National Ploughing Championships has expanded to over 800 acres with 1,700 exhibitors.[5][6] It has been extended beyond ploughing, farming or machinery enthusiasts, to now featuring attractions such as a tented trade village, live entertainment, music & dancing, fashion shows, craft village, live cooking demonstrations, celebrity appearances, sheep dog trials, pony games & welly throwing.[7]

In 2014 the event attracted a record 279,500 visitors, 281,000 in 2015, 283,000 in 2016 and 291,500 in 2017.[8][9][10]

 
All Ireland Pole climbing competition at the National Ploughing Championships in 2011

Early developmentEdit

The original mission statement for the National Ploughing Association, the body organising the championships, was set out as: "To bring the message of good ploughing to all parts of the country and to provide a pleasant and friendly place to meet and do business".[11]

One of the co-founders of the Association, JJ Bergin, became its first managing director. In 1952 he represented Ireland at the first meeting of the World Ploughing Organisation (WPO) and was appointed their vice president.[12] The first World Contest was hosted by Canada in 1953, and the second was in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland in 1954. That was also the first European venue for the ‘Worlds’, when 10 countries competed. Also in 1954, the first ploughing competition for women was introduced, called the 'Farmerette' class, and which was open to girls and single, married or widowed women and without reference to age. The winner was known as 'Queen of the Plough'.[12] In 1955 the National Ploughing Championships expanded into a 2-day event. The Association became a limited liability company and was incorporated on 2 March 1956, with number of directors limited to forty, with period of office of one year; its liability limited by guarantee and without shares.

JJ Bergin continued to manage NPA until his passing in 1958.[13]

When the founding Managing Director of NPA, J.J. Bergin, died in 1958, NPA appointed Kilkenny All-Ireland hurling winner Sean O'Farrell as Managing Director, a role he held until his death in 1972.[14] A national bread baking competition was introduced by NPA in co-operation with ESB in 1958 that continues to this day. In 1959 he represented the NPA at the 7th World Ploughing Contest to Armoy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland and that was the first time they held there.[15] He attended the 8th World Ploughing Contest in Tor Mancina, Roma, Italy 1960[16] where he proudly presented a distinctive block of his native Kilkenny Marble as Ireland’s contribution to Rome’s ‘Cairn of Peace’[17] in 1960[18] One of the highlights of his tenure of office was in 1961 when representing Ireland at 9th World Ploughing Contest, Grignon, Paris, France. He was officially introduced to President of the French Republic, Charles De Gaulle.[19] John was a big man over 6 ft. but he proudly displayed that photo on his wall, dwarfed as he was by the 6’ 5" tall President De Gaulle. Another big event was when the first ever Ploughing Championships were filmed by RTÉ National TV at Killarney in 1961, believed to be the first outside coverage by the new TV station. It was filmed on 8 and 9 November 1961 and broadcast in the first ever episode of the farming programme ‘On the Land’, on 1 January 1962. The film, featuring both local organiser, Mrs Grosvenor, and Sean, was remarkable in that it was broadcast the day after Teilifís Éireann first went on air.[20] And Teilifís ÉireannArchives, itself founded on 1 June 1960, released in 2016 this video from 1961 of then NPA MD, Sean, and current NPA MD, Anna May, at the presentation of the NPC Farmerette trophy to Eiline Brennan from Laois being crowned Queen of the Plough, 1961.[21]

Sean continued to build on NPA’s international profile and in 1964 the NPA sent two competitors to Fuchsenbigl, Near Vienna, Austria, where Ireland won their first World Title when the late Charlie Keegan, from County Wicklow was the winner. It marked a huge Irish International achievement for NPA at that time and was an inspiration to future competitors, demonstrating that the Irish had the standard and the potential to compete with the best in the World. Arriving home from the World Contest in Vienna,[22] the Wicklow man was proudly brought home to Enniskerry, Wicklow on an open top bus to be met by bonfires along the roadside as they greeted NPA’s first World Ploughing Champion.[23] That was a special day for Sean,[24] as County Wicklow was his adopted county. The Irish Times reported how the tractor on which Charlie Keegan won World Ploughing Championships in 1964 had now been restored. It was a green Deutz D40L tractor that was magnificently restored to its original condition by his grandson, Michael, devoting 1,000 hours to restoration work.[25]

At the National Championships 1964, a new Youth class was introduced for Youths 21- 28. In 1965 Esso became an NPA sponsor and introduced the Esso Supreme Trophy which is still presented to the Senior Conventional Champion annually. In 1966 a new competition was introduced to cater for Students from the Agricultural Colleges. In 1969 the Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA) were invited to give demonstrations in cookery, crafts. This also combined with introduction of the Country Markets as the ploughing was an ideal venue to sell produce. Sean held the position of MD until his sudden death in 1972. The Kilkenny People in their September 1972 obituary recorded that he was NPA Managing Director and a member of World Ploughing Organisation and that the graveside oration was delivered by Seán Ó Síocháin, General Secretary of GAA.

A Dream FulfilledEdit

The second half of the NPA 84 year old Story, all of 42 years by 2015, was led by NPA's long serving Secretary of that time from 1954, Anna May McHugh. In 1973 she was appointed NPA's managing director. Anna May, has served for 61 years as Secretary of the NPA organisation. She brought to fruition as MD of NPA what once a big idea of NPA founders back in 1931, what becomes a dream by 1958, and what had been just aspiration by 1972 - turning their collective dream into reality by 2015. And in September 2015, National Ploughing Association Managing Director Anna May McHugh was awarded the Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the French Ambassador to Ireland Mr Jean-Pierre Thébault.[26] Anna May is the Irish Board Member to the Board of the World Ploughing Organization, where her daughter, Anna Marie McHugh, is now General Secretary.[27]

1973 was also the year when 20th World Ploughing Contest was held in County Wexford, Republic of Ireland, in a four-day Contest that was attended by 100,000 people, and when 25 countries took part. Further World Ploughing events have since been held in Ireland with 29th World Ploughing Contest in Wexford in 1981; the 43rd World Ploughing Contest at Oak Park, County Carlow, Ireland in 1996 and the 53rd World Ploughing Contest at Tullow, Carlow in 2006.[15] In 1994 Wexford man Martin Kehoe brought home the first of his three World Champion titles - in 1994 from Outram, Dunedin, New Zealand; in 1995 from Egerton, Njoro, Kenya and in 1999 from Pomacle, France. It is noteworthy that the only other Irish World Champion (apart from first winner, Charlie Keegan) was Eamonn Tracey, winning in Saint Jean D'Illac - Bordeaux France in 2014.[28] Milestones in their illustrious history were recorded in Independent Newspapers in 2011.[29]

Together with her 32-member board of directors team, she has steered NPA into becoming one of the largest outdoor annual events in Europe.[30] Among their achievements, NPA records that in 1975 the number of national exhibitors was 100, the number of counties competing was 21 and the number of demonstrators was 18. In 1978 the Championships returned to County Kilkenny this time to the village where Anna May McHugh's predecessor, Sean O'Farrell, was born, Knocktopher. Attendance figures grew very steadily throughout the 70s & 80s until 1988, when the event was expanded to 3 days in order to cater for heavy traffic due to escalating attendances. According to NPA records, the ICA and Country Markets then started giving cookery and craft demonstrations at the Shows. Other new Events were added with the Fashion Show in 1981; their introduction of Shopping & Business Arcades in 1985 & Kverneland World Class Challenge; the Livestock Section in 1987 and the Nissan Classic in 1989. They record that the "Tented Village" era was developed substantially at the Ploughing contests throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. They credit Enterprise Ireland with bringing delegations from a number of countries to review the event, where exhibitors travelled from Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland and the USA.

Between 2000 and 2011 the Ploughing Championships had grown to 180,000 spectators, 320 competitors, 1,100 exhibitors, 14 shopping arcades and was by then generating €10m for the local Irish economy.[29]

Now in its 84th year NPA records that Events Costs are in the region of 3.5 Million Euro, and have Ploughing Associations in every county in the country of Ireland.[31] NPA claims to now hold the biggest National Ploughing Championships in the World, where over 320 competitors participate in the National Finals; to cater for 19 All-Ireland Ploughing Title Classes; are Ireland’s primary Agricultural Exhibition, and hold one of the largest Agricultural Events in Europe; that many international visitors, exhibitors and delegations from right around Europe and from as far afield as New Zealand now participate; that Events have up to 1,100 Trade Stands which exhibit billions of Euros worth of the most modern agri-equipment in the World on exhibition at the Championships.

It is extraordinary that NPA are still a voluntary association that depends on voluntary efforts of their members from all around the country to achieve such goals. With an average of 180,000 spectators, the NPA attendance has grown from the 3,000 that attended in 1932 to the 280,000 heights it reached in 2014 and 281,000 in 2015.[32] Together NPA's National Ploughing Championships (NPC) are a shop window to what Irish people can achieve when working together, and a great credit to spirit of Rural Ireland ever since the Country's gained its independence one century ago.[33]

LocationsEdit

These locations include the official published list of the dates, venues and winners of National Ploughing Championships from 1931 to 1990.[34][35][36]

Year Photo Location Start date End date Attendance Notes
1931 Coursetown, Athy, County Kildare 16 February
1932 Gorey, County Wexford 19 February
1933 Clondalkin, County Dublin 15 February
1934 Athenry, County Galway 13 February
1935 Mallow, County Cork 13 February
1936 Tullamore, County Offaly February
1937 Greystones, County Wicklow 9 February
1938 Oakpark, Carlow 10 February
1939 Killarney, County Kerry 8 February
1940 Thurles, County Tipperary/Kilkenny 21 January 1 February
1941 Cork/ Navan, County Meath 12 February 18 February
1942 Cloghran, County Dublin 12 February
1943 Lamberton, Portlaoise, County Laois[37] 12 February
1944 Ballinasloe, County Galway 9 February
1945 Tipperary 21 February
1946 Balbriggan, County Dublin 7 February
1947 Maynooth, County Kildare 11 February
1948 Limerick 19 February
1949 Drogheda, County Louth 10 February
1950 Bandon 9 February
1951 County Wexford 1 February
1952 Athenry, County Galway 7 February
1953 Mullingar, County Westmeath 11 February
1954 Cahir, County Tipperary 11 February
1955 Athy 10 February 11 February
1956 Nenagh, County Tipperary 1 February 11 February
1957 Boyle, County Roscommon 7 February 8 February
1958 Tramore, County Waterford 12 February 13 February
1959 Burnchurch, County Kilkenny 28 January 29 January
1960 New Ross, County Wexford 9 November 10 November
1961 Killarney, County Kerry 8 November 9 November
1962 Dovea, Thurles, County Tipperary 7 November 8 November
1963 Athenry, County Galway 6 November 7 November
1964 Danesfort, County Kilkenny 18 November 19 November
1965 Enniskerry, County Wicklow 17 November 18 November
1966 Rosegarland Est.,Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford 2 November 3 November
1967 Tullow, County Carlow 25 October 26 October
1968 Banteer, Mallow, County Cork 23 October 24 October
1969 Rockwell College, Cashel, County Tipperary 22 October 23 October
1970 Danesfort, County Kilkenny 28 October 29 October
1971 Finglas, County Dublin 27 October 28 October
1972 Rockwell College, Cashel, County Tipperary 25 October 26 October
1973 Rosegarland Estate, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford 3 October 6 October
1974 Watergrasshill, County Cork 16 October 17 October
1975 Bennettsbridge, County Kilkenny 15 October 16 October
1976 Wells, Gorey, County Wexford 13 October 14 October
1977 Rockwell College, Cashel, County Tipperary 19 October 20 October
1978 Knocktopher, County Kilkenny 11 October 12 October
1979 Watergrasshill, County Cork[38] 10 October 11 October
1980 Rockwell College, Cashel, County Tipperary 7 October 8 October
1981 Wellingtonbridge, Wexford 7 October 10 October
1982 Edenderry, County Offaly 12 October 13 October
1983 IDA Grounds, Waterford 5 October 6 October
1984 Ardfert, County Kerry 3 October 4 October
1985 Kilkea, Athy, County Kildare 2 October 3 October
1986 Woodsgift, Urlingford, County Kilkenny 8 October 9 October
1987 Charleville Estate, Tullamore, County Offaly 7 October 8 October
1988 Oak Park Research Centre, County Carlow 4 October 6 October
1989 Oak Park Research Centre, County Carlow October
1990 Oak Park Research Centre, County Carlow October
1991 Crecora, County Limerick
1992 Carrigtwohill, Midleton, County Cork
1993 Shanballyard, Clerihan, Clonmel, County Tipperary
1994 Drumgold, Enniscorthy, County Wexford
1995 Ballacolla, County Laois[39]
1996 Oak Park Research Centre, County Carlow
1997 Parkmore, Fiveally, Birr, County Offaly
1998 Ballycarney, Ferns, County Wexford
1999 Castletownroche, Mallow, County Cork[40] 28 September[40] 30 September[40]
2000 Ballacolla, County Laois[41][39] 26 September[41][39] 28 September[41][39]
2001 Ballacolla, County Laois[42] 2 October[42] 4 October[42] Event cancelled due to Foot and Mouth outbreak[43]
2002 Ballacolla, County Laois[2][43] 24 September[2] 26 September[2]
2003 Ballinabrackey, County Meath (5 km South of Kinnegad)[44][45] 23 September[44] 25 September[44]
2004 Athy, County Kildare[46]
2005   Mogeely, Midleton, County Cork[1][47] 27 September 2005[47] 29 September 2005[1]
2006   Grangeford, Tullow, County Carlow[48] 27 September[48] 28 September[48] Also hosted World Ploughing Championships 29–30 September
2007   Annaharvey Farm
Tullamore, County Offaly[49]
25 September[49] 27 September[49]
2008 Cuffesgrange, County Kilkenny (8 km Southwest of Kilkenny Town)[50] 23 September 25 September
2009 Cardenton, Athy, County Kildare[51][52] 22 September[52] 29 September[52]
2010 Cardenton, Athy, County Kildare[51][53][54] 21 September[54] 23 September[54]
2011   Cardenton, Athy, County Kildare[51][55] 20 September[55] 22 September[55]
2012 Heathpark, New Ross, County Wexford[56][6] 25 September[56] 27 September[56]
2013 Ratheniska, County Laois[3][37] 24 September[57] 26 September[57] 228,000[57] 70th Anniversary since the ploughing was first held in Laois.[37]
2014 Ratheniska, County Laois[3] 23 September 25 September 280,000
2015 Ratheniska, County Laois[3] 22 September 24 September 281,000[58][59] All-time record for one day was set on the 23rd of 127,000[60]
2016 Screggan, Tullamore, County Offaly[59] 20 September[59] 22 September[59] 283,000[61]
2017 Screggan, Tullamore, County Offaly[61][62] 19 September[61] 21 September[61] 291,500[63][10]

ReferencesEdit

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  4. ^ Cox, Valerie (2017). A Ploughing People: Farming Life Celebrated, Stories, Traditions, The Championships. Ireland: Hachette Books Ireland. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-473-65945-2. 
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  13. ^ "Milestones in the history of the National ploughing championships". 
  14. ^ Cox, Valerie (2017). A Ploughing People. Ireland: Hachette Books Ireland. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-473-65945-2. 
  15. ^ a b "Past World Events". World Ploughing Organisation. 
  16. ^ "History of the NPA & Championships". 
  17. ^ "Cairns of Peace erected during annual World Ploughing Matches". 67 Peace Stones, Rocks, Slabs & Cairns Around the World. Peace Monuments. 
  18. ^ "History of the NPA & Championships". 
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  21. ^ "Farmerettes At The Ploughing 1961". RTE Archives. RTE. 1961. 
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  24. ^ "NPA Managing Direction Sean O'Farrell on location with Charlie Keegan and co at the Ploughing Championships, Kilmacanogue, County Wicklow, 17 July 1962". 
  25. ^ "Tractor on which Charlie Keegan won World Ploughing Championships in 1964 restored". 
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  27. ^ "Structure". WPO. World Ploughing Organisation. 
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  32. ^ "Another Record Breaking Year". Irish National Ploughing Association. NPA. 
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  36. ^ "List of the dates, venues and winners of National Ploughing Championships from 1971 to 1990". NPA Ltd. 
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  38. ^ "1979". National Ploughing Association. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
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  43. ^ a b Collings, Andrew (20 September 2002). "Event Hat-Trick and Hosts". Farmers Weekly (Ireland). p. 5. Retrieved 12 December 2016 – via General OneFile. (Subscription required (help)). 
  44. ^ a b c "Irish National Ploughing Championships: Tradition Alive and Well as Meath Hosts the Big Event". The News Letter. 20 September 2003. Retrieved 30 September 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)). 
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  49. ^ a b c "Machinery & Livestock Exhibition 2007". National Ploughing Association of Ireland. 2007. Archived from the original on 29 July 2007. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
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  52. ^ a b c O'Brien, Declan; Murphy, Caitriona (22 September 2009). "With around 150,000 people expected to descend on Athy over the next three days, getting people on and off the National Ploughing Championships site at Cardenton is going to be a major logistical challenge". Irish Independent. p. 3. Retrieved 12 December 2016 – via General OneFile. (Subscription required (help)). 
  53. ^ "Should City Dwellers Have to Attend the National Ploughing Championships? DEBATE". Irish Daily Mail. 24 September 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)). 
  54. ^ a b c Sheehan, Aideen (20 September 2010). "Up to 180,000 visitors are expected to flock to this year's National Ploughing Championships tomorrow". Irish Independent. p. 7. Retrieved 12 December 2016 – via General OneFile. (Subscription required (help)). 
  55. ^ a b c "Come celebrate 80 years of the National Ploughing Association in Athy this September 20th-22nd 2011". National Ploughing Association of Ireland. 2011. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  56. ^ a b c "National Ploughing Championships on Kilkenny border launched". Kilkenny People. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2016 – via General OneFile. (Subscription required (help)). 
  57. ^ a b c "Ploughing championships to return to Laois in 2014 after smashing records". The Journal.ie. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  58. ^ "Numbers attending Ploughing Championships at an all-time high". breakingnews.ie. 24 September 2015. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
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  60. ^ http://www.npa.ie/2015/09/record-high-attendance/
  61. ^ a b c d "homepage". National Ploughing Association of Ireland. 2016. Archived from the original on 12 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  62. ^ "2017 Return to Screggan". National Ploughing Association of Ireland. 2016. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  63. ^ McNally, Malcolm (22 September 2017). "Thousands flock to National Ploughing Championships in county Offaly". Retrieved 2 October 2017. 

External linksEdit