There was strong Waterford interest once again this year at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, County Offaly.
IT’S one of the largest outdoor events in Europe and generates some mind boggling statistics each year.The 87th National Ploughing Championships took place once again last week in Screggan, County Offaly.Unsurprisingly, the carnage caused by Storm Ali, which resulted in the unprecedented decision to close on Wednesday, was the major talking point this year.
However, by Thursday, everyone had returned to the grounds ready to regroup and face a new day.Waterford featured prominently throughout the extravaganza, with many from the Déise in attendance as both exhibitors and spectators. Last year, the impressive World Record attempt undertaken by Waterford wood carver John Hayes at the Oleo-Mac stand was one of the highlights of the entire event and attracted huge interest and many compliments.
John’s creation, a 23 metre long sword weighing 14 tonnes carved from a Douglas Fir Tree, tells the story of the Vikings arriving in Ireland and Waterford.After initially working on the project in Ballinamona (where the tree was sourced), the tree was transported to Screggan where John completed his work with the assistance of his trusted sidekick James ’Joxer’ Doyle. A delegation from Waterford, which included then Mayor of Waterford City & County Council Cllr Pat Nugent, had travelled to Screggan last year and joined with the Norwegian Ambassador Else Berit Eikeland in celebrating John’s remarkable achievement. The finished sword was later transported back to Waterford and has proved a huge tourist attraction since being officially unveiled in its new home in the Viking Triangle last December. The Waterford representation was smaller this year however there was still plenty of Déise interest.
It wouldn’t be the Ploughing without the famous ‘Bachelors in Trouble’ who had made the long trip from their home in the Comeragh Mountains to County Offaly, with ‘Tom’ (Tony Coffey) still on the lookout for an elusive wife.
On Thursday, ‘Tommy’ (William Walsh) was displaying their impressive range of CDs and DVDs including their new release for Christmas 2018. He explained that they were recovering from the havoc of Wednesday which saw their stand being blown away.Undeterred, they were back in action on Thursday and proving as popular as ever. Waterford’s Kieran O’Connor was as busy as ever in the impressive Glanbia marquee.Some innovative features were being displayed and a new scheme was launched which is designed to help milk suppliers fund the purchase of critical farm infrastructure including generators, feed bins, bulk tanks and milk cooling equipment. A number of panel discussions took place throughout the event on a range of different topics.
Sports nutrition now represents a huge market for Glanbia, and a number of products were being showcased such as the Avonmore Protein Milk range. Glanbia also presented the proceeds of the successful 2018 Pink Bale fundraiser to Breast Cancer Ireland. This worthwhile initiative has proved hugely popular since its inception and has certainly caught the imagination of farmers throughout the country.
Representatives from UPMC Whitfield Clinic were in attendance at the Ploughing Championships for the third year in a row. Director of Nursing Trish Lane, Business Assistant Clodagh Duggan and their colleagues were on hand to chat with visitors about the hospital and cancer centre and were receiving many queries and expressions of interest.Visitors could stop by to learn about the high-quality care available to patients across the South-East and the facility’s recent integration with the UPMC academic medical network.Undeterred by the carnage caused the day before, Trish and Clodagh said on Thursday that they were prepared to go with the flow. The competitions at their exhibit stand were proving popular as were the free goodies which were being distributed.
The UPMC Whitifeld team were also delighted to have welcomed the reigning Rose of Tralee Kirsten Mate Maher to their stand as well as leading jockey Davy Russell.
Successful local business Waterford Stanley had a strong presence again this year at the Ploughing Championships.Their exhibit featured products from their new range as well as some traditional favourites.Some fantastic competitions were also proving a popular attraction among visitors. At a time when demand for agricultural courses remains high, representatives from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), including experts in smart-agri, were on-hand to talk about course options to prospective students and their parents and to chat about their area of expertise and research interests.
At the Local Enterprise Village, diverse start-ups and small businesses from all over the country were being showcased.