Information compiled by Adrian Harmon and Chris Jones
UPDATE: this year’s event will continue on Friday 21st September due to the cancellation on Wednesday as a result of Storm Ali.
Following a record crowd last year, Screggan is once again the venue for the National Ploughing Championships; Europe’s largest outdoor exhibition and agricultural trade show. Based just outside Tullamore, the three-day event will take place from Tuesday 18th to Thursday 20th September, bringing all things food, farming and culture to one place.
Some 291,500 people attended last year’s event, and another bumper crowd is expected in the event’s 87th year.
There are a number of ways to get to this year’s event, but the majority of those travelling will be doing so by car, which will inevitably cause delays when entering and exiting the site. Gardaí will be doing everything they can to minimise congestion, and they are asking people to follow the directions that we have outlined below. Read on for those and lots more useful information.
Day tickets at the gate cost €20 for an adult and €15 for students and seniors. If you pre-order your tickets, orders of 10+ tickets online gets a 10% discount. Children under 12 go free if accompanied by an adult. To book your tickets and for more information, click here.
The site is open between 9am and 6pm each day with the Ploughing Championships themselves taking place between 10:30am and 2:30pm daily. There are fashion shows each day at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm. Here are a few of the highlights:
Tuesday in Screggan is set to be a vibrant day with a vintage display, sheep shearing demos, a lifestyle village and a funfair just some of the highlights. The HSI Young Handler Competition also takes place today, and there are pony games in the afternoon. The first day of the ploughing also sees the official opening by President Michael D Higgins and music from Sacred Heart School, Tullamore’s choir and trad group, and The Wrafter Family.
Wednesday’s highlight is an Enterprise Ireland Agritech panel discussion, which takes place at midday. You can also expect craft and cookery demos, a Farm Skills Competition and the semi-finals of the National Brown Bread Baking Competition. Singers Derek Ryan, Barry Kirwan and Philip English will provide the entertainment
The final day of the championships, Thursday, is just as exciting as the first two. The Senior Hunt Chase and the final of the National Brown Bread Baking Competition are just two of the highlights. There will be more fashion shows and sheep shearing and entertainment will come from a wide variety of acts including The Duets and Olivia Douglas. The whole week come to a close when the Ploughing Competition results are announced from 6pm.
Routes to the venue are divided into colours depending on what part of the country you are travelling from. The car-parks are also colour-coded to match the route. Gardaí are advising drivers NOT to use their sat nav/GPS systems and to follow the coloured direction signs instead.
It’s worth noting too that the N52 Mucklagh Bypass will be closed for the duration of the event.
Traffic travelling northbound on the M8 will exit at J6 Thurles and on towards Thurles before heading towards Birr on the N62. There, traffic will join the N52 and travel north to the event site at Screggan.
Parking: On this route, you’ll park in the designated BLUE car parks on the left and right hand side next to the event grounds.
Traffic travelling from Kilkenny or the south-east will travel north along the N77 via Abbeyleix to Portlaoise. It will then be directed through Clonminham and onto the N80 to Mountmellick. It will then take the Clonaslee Rd (R422) and Killurin Rd (R421) before being directed to the event site at Screggan.
Parking: On this route, you’ll park in the designated GREY car parks beside the event grounds at Screggan.
Traffic from Carlow and the south-east will travel on the N80 towards Portlaoise. At the Bloomfield R/A, traffic will travel north through Rathbrennan towards the Heath and turn-off at the Wheel Inn pub (signposted Portarlington). It will then travel towards Mountmellick and onto Tullamore via Killeigh.
Parking: On this route, you’ll park in the designated YELLOW car parks beside the event grounds at Screggan.
Traffic travelling northbound on the M7 will exit at J26 Nenagh West and travel along the N52 towards Borrisokane. In Borrisokane, traffic will take the N65 towards Portumna and then after 5km, turn right onto the Cloghan Rd (R438). In Cloghan, turn right to the event (R357).
Parking: On this route, you’ll park in the designated BROWN car parks beside the event grounds at Screggan.
Traffic from Dublin should use the M4/M6 westbound and exit at J5 Tullamore. You’ll then head onto the N52 towards Tullamore. Traffic will then travel via Durrow (passing the GAA pitch), along the Clara/Tullamore Rd (R420) and then arrive at a shuttle service to the site.
Parking: On this route, you’ll park in the designated PURPLE car park.
Traffic from the north will travel via Mullingar and onto the N52 towards Tyrellspass. It will travel to Kilbeggan via the Old N6 (R446), onto the Clara Rd (R436), the local Durrow Rd and then join the Tullamore/Clara Rd (R420). At Coolnahiley, traffic will be directed to parking beside the event grounds.
Parking: On this route, you’ll park in the designated PINK car parks beside the event grounds at Screggan.
Traffic travelling from the west will exit the M6 at J6 Moate East towards Moate. It will then travel via the Ballycumber Rd and join the Ballycumber/Clara Rd (R436) towards Rahan before being directed onto the local Mucklagh Rd towards the event site.
Parking: On this route, you’ll park in the designated GREEN car parks on the right hand side of the local Mucklagh Rd just beside the event grounds at Screggan.
Traffic travelling south along the M7 will exit at J15 Ballybrittas and onto the Old Dublin Rd (R445). It will then travel through Emo and on to Cloneygowan. Traffic will then travel towards Tullamore (R420) to the event site.
Parking: On this route, you’ll park in the designated ORANGE car parks.
On the Blue, Brown and Grey routes, disabled parking is located on site at Gate 5, adjacent to the Hunt Chase.
On the Green Route, parking is beside the Green Exhibitor Car Park.
On the Purple and Pink routes, you will park in the disabled park beside the Pink Exhibitors Car Park.
On the Yellow and Orange route, parking is on the N52 Mucklagh Bypass adjacent to the Livestock.
There are plenty of options if you’re looking to leave the car behind. Iarnród Éireann provide regular services to Tullamore via the Dublin to Galway/Westport line.
The below services will run every day of the ploughing:
From the train station, Bus Éireann will be providing a frequent shuttle service to and from the site at Screggan each day. Buses will leave the station every 15-20 minutes between 7am and 11:30am on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, returning from Gate 1 on the Mucklagh Bypass approx. every half-hour between 1:45pm and 6:30pm each day. The full timetable is here.
Bus Éireann also run a regular service to Tullamore and nearby towns. For more details, check out their website.
A number of private bus companies will also be providing services to and from the site for the duration of the event.
Main photo by Wiki user Capabletom, used under CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence.