Photo: Eoin Murphy

Photo: Eoin Murphy

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The annual ploughing Championships were a great success in Cuffesgrange, Callan, Co. Kilkenny. The sunny weather meant that there was a massive attendance there on the three days.

The first day saw over 70,000 there and this was matched the second day, despite the 20 euro entry charge.

It was a great day out for the rural communities.

We met a number of people from County Waterford and Kilkenny at the venue, which was easily accessible for those from the south east.

The ploughed fields looked immaculate worked on by both men or women.

Nearby helicopter trips did a roaring business, as children some in black and amber pleaded with their parents to take them up in the air.

Landrover had a great display for their all purpose vehicles with special drivers taking them on an obstacle/ hill type course to demonstration its versatility,

Not for the faint hearted that is for sure.

TV and radio stations were there a plenty recording what was going on, even Paul Collins of Today FM was there with camera behind him interviewing visitors.

It is a real country event and country music was the most popular live music on different stages, Richie Kavanagh entertained fans in a beer tent near the exit towards the end of the day. Lots of stalls sold country music from home and the USA, with Johnny Cash proving especially popular.

There was huge interest in alternative energy with farmers hoping to secure grants for windmills and solar panels.

Farmers and stand holders complained that our Green Minister for the Environment could be doing more. The ESB could be purchasing electricity from private users for use in the grid and paying a market price.

Surplus electricity produced by alternative energy sources for sale it seems is a problem in developing and progressing this sector.

The ESB need to change their policy on payment for electricity purchase from users. In Germany there is like for like payment.

The machinery stands had many types of equipment for sale but not many deals were being done.

Lots of stands sold clothing. Craft and home produced food was another popular part of the event with great food tents displayed the best of produce.

We tried Offaly cheeses, smoked fish from Thomastown, sausages from Monaghan and local breads in what was a mini feast for visitors.

There were the usual burger vans and roast dinners but checking out the food tent proved the best way for a meal with a difference.

The Slow Food Movement has much potential from such suppliers.

The heritage council had a fine display of traditional crafts in farming, outside there were vintage threshing displays.

The old Ireland could be seen alive and well. The religious orders were also

Well displayed here, the legion of mary, foreign missions and the local diocese of Ossory had prominent displays.

Like Iverk Show it has nice touches from the past and good points from the present.

Rural Ireland is still stable and strong even if there are banking type recessions and job losses in the real world as the building slowdown continues.

The overseas property tent seemed fairly small compared to other years.

Buying farmland in Brazil to produce energy crops like biomass for oil was a hot topic here.

Apartments in Dublin and England were being sold at discount.

Farming auctioneers were also on hand.

There were many here too were part time farmers and were here to look for new ideas now that there is less building.

Overall it was an extremely successful event, that went off very smoothly.

The Gardai handled the traffic very well, we made it to and from Waterford is less than an hour via Mullinavat and Hugginstown on the Thursday.

Other days there were delays of considerable time with people taking two hours to do the journey.

Hosts Robert and Ann Woodcock of Cuffesgrange are more than happy

With the outcome, as were neighbours the Barry family.

Metal tracking was laid on the ground if it got muddy or there was rain but the fine weather held fast.

Many attendees had bought a special type of stick to get by on the grounds and felt almost like a fashion item.

Indeed there was a fashion show also there.

One of the country’s best dressed politicians,

Tanaiste Mary Coughlan had opened the event on the Tuesday and there were lots of other politicians on hand during the week with the local And European elections up and coming. We noted the presence of MEP Liam Aylward and Cllr. Cora Long of South Kilkenny. Mairead McGuinness as was leader of the Fine Gael Opposition, Enda Kenny. Fine Gael had much signage along the roads with Senator John Paul Phelan and Deputy Phil Hogan TD staring from lamp posts like there was an election.

The event will be held close to Dublin next year at Athy Co. Kildare again

Not too far for people from the south east.

Ann May Hugh said that despite the level of dust at the event she was pleased at how well the event passed, as people were pleasant in their compliments.

The total attendance was 208,000 over the three days. A record for the 77 year old event.