The National Ploughing Championships will be held in Laois for the third year in a row, pipping Tullow in Carlow as top choice for organisers.
“The people in Ratheniska wanted it back, the infrastructure will be left there, and the accessibility and the site itself are over and above the one in Tullow,” said Anna May McHugh, Managing Director of the National Ploughing Association.
The Tullow site was used for the event in 2004, and for the World Ploughing Championships in 2006.
“The owner Kevin Nolan was very accommodating, but the championships have just grown so much, it is a different picture,” she said.
“In future wherever we go, there must be a good road network, with no overhead wires, and train and bus services. We would look at Tullamore, Kildare, Carlow, Laois and possibly south Tipp or Kilkenny,” Ms McHugh said, while ruling out a fourth year for Laois.
“We are not going for a four day event. We will try and maintain the high standard set this year. It is a total team effort from day one, with the support not just of David Carter, but so many other landowners, Laois County Council and the Gardaí,” the MD said.
This year saw record breaking attendances of 279,500 visitors over the three days, helped by good weather and a smoothly run traffic plan.
It generated an estimated €36 million, and brought a boost to B&Bs, hotels and filing stations for miles around.
The 84th championships, now Europe’s largest outdoor event, will run from September 22 to 24.
“I have new ideas but they are not unveiled yet, new additions to improve it again and broaden interest. We get tremendous help from local organising committees, that makes it possible, it’s a team event,” said Ms McHugh.
The news was welcomed by Minister Charlie Flanagan.