Showcasing the best of rural Irish life, there’s a bumper crop of arts events at this year’s National Ploughing Championships.
The last of the summer music and arts festivals are fading into memory, but for many, the highlight of the 2017 festival season is still to come with the highly anticipated 86th National Ploughing Championships, in Screggan, County Offaly.
This year Creative Ireland, in collaboration with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Arts Council, will host an array of renowned cultural and creative individuals at its performance ardán over 19-21 September.
Along with agriculture, creativity is synonymous with Ireland and this year’s programme is set to celebrate the creativity flourishing in every corner of rural Ireland.
Children’s book illustrator PJ Lynch explores his Laureate na nÓg theme The Big Picture in a two-hour appearance and the GAA gets the literary treatment as poems from the collection Everything To Play For are read out.
For young theatre fans, there’s lots to look forward to with The Gardener, produced by Graffiti Theatre Company, and Spraoi’s Branar Téatar do Pháistí. Aimed at older audiences, the Humours of Bandon is also coming to Screggan and was one of the Irish highlights of the recent Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Trad is out in force too, as sean nós singer Eoin Warner and uilleann piper Maitiú Ó Casaide are set to serenade audiences. Even though many of the dancing shoes will be wellies, one of the festival highlights is the céile with music provided by local artists, including Attracta Brady.
The result of a squabble between friends about whether Wexford or Kildare had better ploughmen, the inaugural inter-county ploughing contest took place across 26 acres in 1931 in Athy, County Kildare.
Today, the National Ploughing Championships stretches across 700 acres – including 180 acres for ploughing – and attracts up to 283,000 visitors every year.
Far from only focused on ploughing – or indeed agriculture – this festival celebrates every aspect of Irish rural life. With an excess of 1,700 exhibitors spanning culinary, artistic, agriculture and more sectors, this is a patchwork that makes up the vibrancy of Irish life beyond our urban areas.
If you’re at the festival, stop by Creative Ireland’s performance ardán and see what other Creative Ireland-supported events are happening at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s marquee too.
The National Ploughing Championships take place 19-21 September in Screggan, County Offaly.