Over the next three days, almost 300,000 people will descend on the Ploughing Championships in Ireland’s midlands. It’s the biggest outdoor event in Europe and it’s the best craic you can have in a muddy field without drink.
If you’ve never been to the ploughing championships, it’s a spectacle to behold. Think farmer music festival without the music. Think walkways packed with wellies as far as the eye can see. Think Father Ted meets Glastonbury. And throw in a few tractors. And kids. And a big hawk of machinery beside the hurdy gurdys.
It’s magical in the most Irish of ways. It’s a dose of the decents. And you should definitely go if you can.
I’ve been to the ploughing championships for work reasons for most of my 20s. I’ve hauled myself, my convertible, boxes of flyers and suitcases of shite through five different shades of mud to stand in a tent and waffle to welly-clad strangers and convince them to convert to my beliefs or enter the competition I was hosting.
Farmers have no time for nonsense. If they don’t want to talk to you, they’ll let you know that. But there’s no meanness. And for the most part, everyone is very nice. Especially when you get your welly stuck. Or the front wheels of your car. And then the back wheels. And before you know it, the only thing that’s getting you out of that field is the solitary tractor pulling the rest of the embedded cars out ahead of you. If skating on a mud rink in a two ton vehicle is your thing, then you’re going to the right place.
Here is LadyNicci’s guide to surviving the Ploughing Championships.
1. Get there early
Even if you think you are early, the traffic will make you late. 5am is a good time to leave. Farmers love being up early anyway, so your early is probably their late. Dawn peoples, dawn
2. Wear wellies
Don’t try to get away with hiking boots, flat boots or god forbid, heels. Yes: some girls wear heels. #idiots
3. If you want to fit in, buy a schtick
Most people carry a schtick. These can be purchased for two for a fiver and used for thwacking cattle and misbehaving children. Or husbands.
4. Get a lift in a tractor and trailer
Depending on the year, you may be lucky enough to be transported between fields in a trailer. You get to experience what it might feel like to be a cow on its way to slaughter. The only slaughtering you’ll find today though is of your poiceadi. But sure isn’t this made up for by your free trailer taxi.
5. Know where your tow bar is
If it’s raining, be prepared to have your car towed from an impassable field. I was told to search in my boot for a screw that could be attached to front of my car and voila, tow bar. Try to park near field exits is possible.
6. Bring two plastic bags
One for your wellies, the other to collect all the shite you get given.
7. Stock up on freebie food
Visit the food tents for plenty of samples. Either that or bring a loan to buy fast food. #extortionate
8. Listen carefully to the lady on the tannoy system
She was the script writer behind Father Ted. Tunnel. Of. Goats.
9.Watch out for nuns, country music and politicians
They will all try to convert you
10. Revel in your nationality
There is nothing more Irish than the ploughing championships. Enjoy the fresh air, tweed, banter and burgers. And if you survive it all, sit down on a bale, slug on a plastic pint of Guinness and listen to the dull tones of Richie Kavanagh in the music tent. Bliss.
Have you ever been to the ploughing championships? Is is good place to bring the kids for a day out? Feel free to comment below