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National Ploughing Championships 2019: the AA Roadwatch guide National Ploughing Championships 2019: the AA Roadwatch guide

AA Roadwatch

National Ploughing Championships 2019: the AA Roadwatch guide

Published 10th September 2019Read Time 13 min

The 88th National Ploughing Championships takes place this year in Ballintrane, Fenagh, County Carlow from Tuesday 17th to Thursday 19th September, 2019.
The Ploughing Championships is Europe’s largest outdoor exhibition and agricultural trade show. Over 240,000 patrons attended last year’s event.
Due to the large numbers expected, traffic delays are inevitable. It is therefore essential to be prepared and plan ahead to help make your journey as stress free as possible.
For live traffic news throughout the event, make sure you go to The AA Roadwatch Newsroom.


  1. Gardaí advise motorists NOT TO USE a Sat Nav or GPS system to get to the event. Instead, they ask patrons to download their traffic app and follow signage on the day.
  2. Make sure you read the traffic plan carefully (details are below). Check the car park colour indicated on your ticket and the route you are travelling.
  3. Allow plenty of extra time for your journey – Gardaí recommend leaving twice the amount of time you normally would.
  4. When you arrive at your car park, make note the colour of the over-head flying blimp and the number/colour/animal sign in your car park, so you can find it easily when you leave.
  5. If you have a vehicle pass, make sure it is clearly displayed on the front windscreen of your vehicle. Vehicles not displaying passes clearly may be redirected.
  6. Ensure your car is in good working order, your phone is charged and that you have an additional back up charger. Bring water and snacks for the car.


Opening times and what to expect:
  •  The Exhibition Arena is open from 9am to 6pm each day.
  •  Ploughing Competitions run from 10:30am to 2:30pm.
  •  The Entertainment Programme is from 10am to 6pm.
  •  Fashion Shows take place at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm daily.
  • On the final day (Thursday), The National Brown Bread Baking Competition final takes place – a huge attraction at the event. The semi-finals of the competition take place in the Aldi marquee on the Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • The National Ploughing Championships website has an FAQ section for any other information you may need.


A stretch of the N80 will be closed north of Ballon, between Kilnock and Graiguenaspiddogue, from 10am on Monday (16th) to midday on Friday (20th). If you’re not attending the event, but need to travel in the area, allow extra time as you’ll be diverted via Myshall and Bagenalstown (towards Carlow) or Castledermot (towards Wexford). The off-ramps from the M9 at J5 Carlow will also be closed for the duration of the championships.


  • Routes to the venue are divided into colours depending on what part of the country you are travelling from. The car-parks are colour-coded to match the route.
  • The N80 will be closed to traffic, so patrons must follow the designated routes to access the event site.
  • The exit ramps at J5 Carlow on the M9 will be closed to motorists for the duration of the National Ploughing Championships.
  • Follow signage and the direction of the Gardaí. Once again, do not use a sat nav/GPS system to guide you. Motorists should adhere to the coloured direction signs instead. The Gardaí have produced a series of videos which will help you plan your journey depending on what part of the country you are coming from.
  • The official Garda route and car park maps are available here.
Blue Route – traffic from Cork/Munster area
  • Travel north on the M8 to J4 Urlingford. Exit the motorway and proceed through Johnstown and Durrow via the R639.
  • At Durrow, head towards Ballyragget via the N77 and continue on that route to Kilkenny City.
  • Travel along the Kilkenny ring road to the Hebron Rd R/A, turn left onto the N10 and head towards the M9/Dublin/Carlow.
  • Keeping left at the fork, join the M9 northbound at J8 Kilkenny (signposted M9/Dublin/Carlow).
  • Continue along the M9 and exit at J6 Carlow South. Then, take the Old Kilkenny Rd (R448) towards Carlow Town.
  • Turn right at Milford Cross to Ballyloo Crossroads and continue onto Graiguenaspiddogue Cross.
  • At Graiguenaspiddogue Cross, turn right onto the N80. The entrance to the Blue Car Park will be on the right.

Parking: On this route, you’ll park in the designated Blue Car Park on the right hand side. Traffic will also be directed to turn right at Fighting Cocks towards Nurney, where the Blue Car Park park will be on the left.
Return Journey: Patrons on Blue Route will return via N80 and join the M9 southbound at J5 Carlow.

Grey Route – traffic travelling from Wexford
  • Traffic travelling from Wexford will travel on the N80 towards Bunclody.
  • Continue straight through Bunclody, passing Ballon and Ballykealey House.
  • Follow directions towards the event site.

Parking: Patrons on the Grey Route will be directed to the designated Grey Car Park on the left hand side.

Brown Route – traffic from Limerick
  • Northbound traffic on the M7 exit at J21 Borris-In-Ossory.
  • From there, proceed to Ballacolla via the Borris-In-Ossory Rd (R434).
  • Turn left at the traffic lights in Ballacolla and travel towards Abbeyleix via the Abbeyleix Rd (R433).
  • Turn left off the R433 in Abbeyleix, and at the next traffic lights turn right onto the Carlow Rd (R430).
  • Travel through The Swan towards Newtown Cross.
  • At Newtown Cross, turn left and take an immediate right at Flemings Public House, signposted Carlow.
  • At Molloys Cross, Tolerton; turn right onto the R431, signposted Castlecomer.
  • Continue on the Castlecomer Rd before taking a left onto the local road, signposted Rossmore.
  • Travel through Ballinabranagh towards Milford and turn right at the junction at Milford Lough, signposted Leighlinbridge.
  • At the junction with the old Carlow/Kilkenny Rd (R448), opposite The Arbouretum Garden Centre, turn left towards Leighlinbridge.
  • Turn right at the R705, signposted Leighlinbridge.
  • Continue into Leighlinbridge before turning left onto the Tullow Rd at The Lord Bagenal Hotel.
  • Continue on the Tullow Road towards Harrow Cross and on towards Nurney Village. Traffic will then be directed towards the event site.

Parking: Patrons on the Brown Route will be directed to the designated Brown Car Park on the right hand side.

Purple Route – traffic from Dublin/Northern route
  • Traffic travelling from Dublin/the M50 will take the M7 southbound to J11 M9, signposted Waterford/Kilkenny/Kilcullen.
  • Continue on the M9 southbound and exit at J4 Castledermot.
  • Take the third exit at the roundabout off the motorway and continue towards Carlow on the R448.
  • At the roundabout at MSD, take the first exit, signposted Hacketstown/Tullow.
  • Continue to the junction with the Hacketstown Rd and turn left.
  • At the next crossroads, turn right following signage for Sion Cross.
  • At the end of the road at Kernanstown, turn right towards Carlow.
  • At Sion Cross turn left, signposted Rathoe.
  • At the end of the road, turn right, following signage for Fighting Cocks/Leighlinstown, and then follow directions to the event site.

Parking: Patrons on the Purple Route will be directed to the designated Purple Car Park on the right hand side.
Return Journey: Patrons on Purple Route will return on Purple Route to Staplestown where they will be diverted left to Kilmeany and onto the M9.

Green Route – traffic travelling from Galway/West
  • Traffic travelling from the west will exit the M6 eastbound at J5 Tullamore and travel on the N52 to Tullamore.
  • At the Clonminch roundabout, take the first exit onto the N80, signposted Portlaoise/Mountmellick.
  • Traffic will travel through Mountmellick towards Emo on the R422.
  • Continue through Emo to New Inn Cross roundabout at Finline Furniture and take the first exit onto the Old N7 (R445), signposted Vicarstown.
  • Pass The Gandon Inn and take the second exit off the next roundabout, following the signs for Vicarstown R422.
  • Cross over the M7 and continue on to Vicarstown, turn left to travel over the bridge and continue along the R427 to the Cloney crossroads junction with the R417.
  • Turn right at the junction and travel towards Kilberry as far as Bert Cross, then turn left.
  • Continue to Russlestown Cross and turn right towards Athy.
  • At the roundabout in Athy take the first exit, signposted Ballitore N78.
  • Travel towards Ballitore/Timolin and turn right onto the Castledermot Road, R448.
  • Continue through Castledermot and turn left at O’Neill’s Public House for Tullow.
  • Travel through Killerrig Cross and take the next right turn for Grangeford.
  • At the end of the road turn right and then left, signposted Rathoe.
  • Continue straight through Rathoe then at the N80 jct, turn right and follow event signage to the car park.

Parking: Patrons on the Green Route will be directed to the designated Green Car Park on the right hand side.

Orange Route – traffic travelling from Wicklow
  • Take the N81 southbound through Baltinglass, Rathvilly and Tullow.
  • At Closh Cross, turn right onto the N80 through Ballon and past Ballykealey House.
  • Traffic will be directed towards the event site.

Parking: Patrons on the Orange Route will be directed to the designated Grey Car Park on the left hand side.

Yellow Route – Traffic travelling from Waterford
  • Take the M9 northbound from Waterford to exit at J9 Kilkenny South.
  • Take the first exit at the roundabout off the motorway onto the N10, then turn right to proceed towards Bennettsbridge.
  • Continue straight through Bennettsbridge and onto the Gowran Road.
  • Turn right at the end of High St in Gowran and travel towards Goresbridge via the R702.
  • Continue through Goresbridge to Borris, and turn left at Kavanagh’s Public House onto the Fenagh Rd.
  • Travel to Fenagh and follow directions through the village to Lumcloon and on to the event site.

Parking: Patrons on the Yellow Route will be directed to the designated Yellow Car Park on the right hand side.
Return Journey:Patrons on Yellow Route will return on Yellow Route to Gowran, turning right and continuing to Paulstown following signage to J7 Paulstown on the M9 towards Waterford.


Disabled parking for the Brown and Blue Routes will be facilitated at the event site via Gate 13.
Those in need of disabled parking on the Purple Route will be directed towards The Fighting Cocks on the N80 and will be facilitated on-site through Gate 13.
Disabled parking for Yellow Route, will be facilitated at the event site through Gate 9 on Fenagh Rd.
On the Green Route, travel through Rathoe Village, take the first left after the village and continue towards Bang Up Cross. From there, turn right and merge with the Orange Route.
Motorists on the Orange, Grey and Green Routes will travel on N80 to Ballon Village. Turn left in Ballon and continue to Taylor’s Cross and on to Fenagh. Turning right in Fenagh, merge with the Yellow Route where disabled parking will be facilitated at the event site through Gate 9 on Fenagh Rd.
If you break down on your way to the Ploughing, having AA Roadside Rescue can give you priceless peace of mind. Become a member for as little as €10 a month. 


Consider using public transport options or car-pooling where possible.


Iarnród Éireann provide regular services to Carlow and full details can be found here. You can then take Bus Éireann’s shuttle bus to the event (see below).


A Shuttle Bus service will be provided by Bus Éireann to the event from Carlow train station. Tickets cost €9 return for an adult and €5 return for children under 16 years. A Family Ticket of two adults and three children max. (U16) can be purchased for €20. Further details can be found on the Bus Éireann website.
A number of private bus companies will also be providing services to and from the site for the duration of the event.


Taxis dropping off patrons will be facilitated as close to the car parks as is possible once it doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic.  There is no designated taxi pick-up area near the event site.


There will be an area for bicycle parking in a dedicated car park. Patrons should follow direction signage for bicycle parking on arrival to the event.


There will not be electric car charging facilities in the car parks for the event, however there are four charge points in Carlow Town for electric car-charging. See this map for exact locations.