06 Oct 2022

WATCH: 'Retirement never enters my head' - Ploughing MD Anna May McHugh

Just one hedge and two weeks separates the Electric Picnic site from the next huge gathering in Laois, the National and World Ploughing Championships.

Some 800 acres of fields in Ratheniska are rapidly tranforming into a small city, to welcome what is now one of the largest outdoor agriculture events in the world will welcome anything from 300,000 to 400,000 visitors from September 20 to 22.

The MD of the National Ploughing Championships, proud Laois lady Anna May McHugh, still has her hand on the plough, with no intention of taking it easy, as she told the Leinster Express on site at a preview of the huge event.

"The word retirement never enters my head," she said, explaining that she and her team are working flat out to ensure the gates open and all runs smoothly.

"As a Laois person I'm very proud that we have it back in Laois and particularly that we have the world ploughing in Laois, it's the first time for that event to be in the county. The land is excellent, the farming community is very good to us. We're looking forward to a huge event. We hope that everyone will come and enjoy themselves and go home safely," she said.

The championships include the World Ploughing Championships this year, moved from Russia to Ireland as a result of the illegal invasion of Ukraine. Visitors are coming from France, the USA, UK, Uganda, Germany, India, Poland, Ghana, Belgium, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Lativa and the Netherlands.

The ploughing organisational talent has passed from mother to daughter, with Anne Marie McHugh who as General Secretary of the World Ploughing Association has overseen the last minute huge changes to add the world event to the Irish one.

“It is a massive honour for Ireland to welcome international delegations and their supporters from 28 countries all around the globe.  The very best plough men and women in the world will be battling it out to be crowned World Champion,” she said.

As well as ploughing competitions, there will be livestock, fashion shows, live music, 1,700 trade stands, cookery demonstrations, Meggers, Sheep Shearing, a Hunt Chase, Fun Fair, Food Trail, Craft Demonstrations, Pony Games, Live Music and Dancing, Vintage Ploughing, Threshing, Loy Digging, Motor Show with celebrities and well known faces everywhere.

With sustainability a key theme for #Ploughing2022, the NPA will be promoting the use of recyclable products, food waste will be converted into energy through an anaerobic digester and there will also be solar panelled lighting towers, cardboard compactors, litter fines and waste separation operations on-site.  Certa formally known as EMO Oil are providing the electricity for the event using HVO Hydrated Vegetable Oil (recycled cooking oil), while Bank of Ireland will be giving out 1,000 native Irish Hedgerow Plants to their customers on site. 

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