The National Ploughing Championship site for 2020 in Ballintrane, Fenagh, Co. Carlow, lays empty and deserted today (Wednesday, September 16) after the event became one of the many victims to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Ploughing Association (NPA) announced on May 8 its decision to cancel the 2020 National Ploughing Championships in the interest of public health and safety.

“The executive reached this very difficult decision to cancel the trade exhibition as public health and safety is our foremost priority given the current global pandemic.

With visitor attendance last year of 297,000 and up to 1,700 exhibitors, we had too many concerns about how we could implement social distancing and the potential risk of bringing together people from all over the country.

Some events to go ahead ‘virtually’

The NPA had said it is “conscious” of those who may have limited or no internet and social media access as some events of the National Ploughing Championships will go ahead virtually.

Anna Marie McHugh of the NPA told AgriLand that all involved are working in a bid to keep it as the “calendar slot for rural Ireland”.

“It was a very unfortunate medium for the exhibitors to lose, especially with the year it has been so far – so to generate some awareness of their businesses, we’ve been engaging with them and given them the opportunity to put up offers online or to send in videos with messages.

“To have events to look forward to is really uplifting.”

Only one previous ‘Ploughing’ cancellation

In 89 years, the National Ploughing Championship has only ever been cancelled once before – in 2001, due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

That time, only two senior classes were held, but this time there will be six of 21 senior competitions taking place, according to McHugh. However, they have been postponed from the original dates of September 15 to 17, instead taking place on October 6 to 8.

“There was a lot of excitement up until now that the event was going to be going ahead,” she said.

“It was just a little bit of a light at the end of this quite dark tunnel.”