The last time I was at The National Ploughing Championships was 2006. It was held in Carlow that year. The only recollection I have from that visit is a young lad in wellingtons selling fireworks, and the Opel stand featuring a yellow Opel Speedster. It is possibly the only Opel Speedster I’ve ever seen in the metal. It was a little sports car similar to the Lotus Elise. Launched in 2000, and quietly dropped five years later, when it became apparent that nobody wanted to buy it.

Anyway, ten years had passed, and there seemed to be a bit of a buzz around The Ploughing 2016 so I decided to make the trip to Tullamore, and see what it was all about. Now, I don’t know if it was because it was so packed with people, or because I went on the last day of the event, or because I’m just not the right audience, but it was awful.

I was hoping to wander the stalls and do some impulse shopping. You know what I mean, maybe a big yellow torch that would shame a lighthouse and then fail to recharge ever again. Or a jacket covered in Volvo logos. Or a trolley jack. Sadly, that didn’t work out. I came away with the impression that farmers must adore paperwork – most of the stands were for insurance, banks, political parties, the RSA and various other boring, grown-up things. They were manned by fellas with shirts, ties and teeth. Not a flat cap or a firecracker within sight.

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I’ve spoken to a few more qualified attendees since the trip, and they explained that I did it all wrong. Seemingly, the best way to experience The Ploughing Championships, is to hit the road before 6AM on the opening day, and explore the whole site before it gets busy and mucky from foot traffic. I’ll know for next time.

I hate leaving these things empty handed, but all I had coming home was mud stains up above my knees, heartburn from the €30 worth of hotdogs we ate, and a hankering for a 4×4 in my life.

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