The fifth biggest town in Ireland cannot be found on any map of the island. It is bigger than Waterford and Dungarvan put together, but you’ll look in vain for its location on Google maps or Wikipedia. This place is a phantom, moving year by year, its populace continually changing and always on the move. Yet, it occupies roughly a square mile of Irish countryside, its streets are made of metal and annually it imports thousands of farm animals to occupy its dozens of huge barns.
“It” is the National Ploughing Championship – the centrepiece of the farming year. Taking place at the end of September, the Ploughing Championship attracts upwards of 1,100 exhibitors and nearly 200,000 visitors over its three day appearance.
This instant town celebrates all things farming. Visitors can view whole milking parlours, tractors gigundus, balers, harvesters, binders, swathers and all the assorted arcana of farm machinery. There are food stands selling every variety of Irish beef hamburgers, gadgeteers galore, displays of old threshing machines, stands displaying the wares of every green energy supplier in Ireland, sackfuls of leaflets, and a giant amusement park with rides guaranteed to make the faint-hearted sick.
Hey, there are even ploughing championships! You can thrill to the glacial progress of horse ploughs or watch modern tractors cut multiple furrows in one go. Name a farm animal and you’ll find some sort of competition for best of. Name a type of tart, flower arrangement, jam or cake and you’re sure to see a whole bunch of satisfied looking judges stuffing their faces while anxious entrants await decisions.
This is it – the Big Kahuna of Irish farming. And this coming year, 25th-27th September 2012, the Ploughing Championships will be coming to New Ross in County Wexford, less than an hour’s drive from Dungarvan.
As you’d expect with an instant city boasting all manner of fast food but with nary a bedroom in sight, hotels within reach are booking up fast. Check out Clonea Strand Hotel, on an EU designated Blue Flag beach. Enjoy a full day exploring what will be South East Ireland’s biggest town, then relax to the soothing sound of the sea.
2012 National Ploughing Championships, Heathpark, New Ross, Co Wexford, 25th-27th September